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[e-drug] WHO-prequalified Zimbabwean manufacturer Varichem stops producing ARVs

E-DRUG: WHO-prequalified Zimbabwean manufacturer Varichem stops producing

[Sad news from Zimbabwe: local company VARICHEM had used a compulsory
(government use) license from the Zimbabwean government to start making
affordable life-saving ARVs some time ago. The WHO even prequalified the
factory: this opened the African market for VARICHEM as this allowed Global
Fund clients to order their ARVs.
Maybe we can hear from Zimbabwean E-druggers what went wrong? Copied as fair 
use. WB]

Varichem stops producing ARVs
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 

arichem-stops-producing-arvs&catid=49:health&Itemid=140 [repair link]

Health Reporter

VARICHEM Pharmaceuticals has stopped the production of life-prolonging
anti-retroviral drugs owing to lack of support from the local market, a
company official has said. The firm's state-of-the-art machinery that it
recently acquired from World Health Organisation pre-qualification to
manufacture ARVs is now lying idle together with almost 70 percent of the
other machinery on the plant.

Zimbabwe is one of the four countries in Africa to got WHO pre-qualification to 
manufacture ARVs. The other three are Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

In an interview after a tour by the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on HIV
and Aids of the manufacturing plant recently, Varichem Pharmaceuticals
technical director Mr Alois Muchabaiwa said the last ARV order from the
National Aids Council was in November last year.

The company's operational capacity for the other products is 65 percent, a
situation Mr Muchabaiwa attributed to lack of support from the local market.

"We are currently not getting any orders from the public sector as most of
its drugs are donor funded and donors do not buy drugs locally," Mr
Muchabaiwa said.

"We believe value added tax on drugs should be removed totally because it is an 
unnecessary cost on a businessperson." He said the senators should advocate the 
removal of duty and VAT on raw materials for the production of the drugs. He 
said duty and VAT charged on raw materials added up to 40 percent of the final 
product cost.

Mr Muchabaiwa said their foreign competitors could bring finished drugs into 
the country duty free, hence their low prices.

During the tour, parliamentarians were told that close to 70 percent of the
giant pharmaceutical company's machines is currently lying idle because
there are no orders.

Varichem Pharmaceuticals export and tender executive Mr Dennis Chiguya
appealed to the committee to lobby for policies that ensured that the local
market also supported local industry.

He said tenders of drugs that were manufactured locally should be awarded to 
local companies. "We need to seriously consider talking to NAC and the State 
Procurement Board to ensure that as long as a product is locally available, 
that product should not go for tender. We can sit down and negotiate prices," 
said Mr Chiguya.

The pharmaceutical company told the parliamentarians that it was able to
meet the national ARVs requirement.

Commenting on Varichem's challenges, committee chairperson Mr Dalumuzi
Khumalo (MDC), said they had taken note of the organisation's challenges and 
will take them up for deliberations in consultation with other stakeholders.

"We cannot respond to your concerns now as we need to engage other players
in this sector," Mr Khumalo said.

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