The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) says it will help Kenya’s pharmaceutical industry reach international standards in order to reduce the cost of medicines.
Unido Consultant Wilberforce Wanyanga says the organisation plans to assist 34 pharmaceutical manufacturers meet World Health Organisation (WHO) pre-qualification standards in the next four years. “The aim is to make Kenyan medicines access the African continental market,” Mr Wanyanga said during the WTO side event on the role of patents in the pharmaceutical industry. So far, only one Kenyan manufacturing firm has met WHO standards.
In addition, the number of pharmaceutical firms that can produce malaria drugs has reduced from a high of 16 to two as the companies were not able to innovate drugs that could overcome the malaria parasite’s drug resistance. Wanyanga said that Unido will also offer technical assistance to Kenya’s pharmaceutical regulator in order to enhance its capability for surveillance on counterfeits. He added that Kenya is already East Africa’s regional hub for pharmaceutical industry.
Under Unido’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Kenya will become a low-cost producer of quality essential drugs for diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Wanyanga said that Kenya’s domestic manufacturers face hurdles in providing medicines for projects funded by international donors.
“This is because they need to attain highest quality standards and this has constrained the expansion of the industry,” he added. Domestic pharmaceutical production has numerous advantages. “Kenya will have access to freshly produced medicines that are closer to the market,” he added. Regulatory costs of controlling the quality of drugs will also be reduced significantly,” he added. Wanyanga said that reliance on imports leads to delays due to lengthy procedures required to clear medicines at border points.