The Indo-Africa Pharma Business Meet attracted participation from 14 African countries, United States of America (USA) and India.
India pharmaceutical industry demonstrated, in no uncertain terms over the three days, that they are ready to be taken seriously as the 'Pharmacy of the World'. The industry enjoys the full support and encouragement of the government of India to take the lead in supplying essential good quality, efficacious, and affordable medicines to the world. The industry is not only concentrating in generic medicines but development of new drugs.
Their message was loud and clear, to provide affordable healthcare to the poor communities around the world and reduce national healthcare costs of African countries, a continent challenged by pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and emergence of other metabolic syndromes.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers of India came to the congress prepared and ready to do business. Indian Pharmaceutical market is a strong emerging force to reckon with. The industry currently enjoys position four in volume of drugs produced worldwide and eight percent global market share. The industry, however, occupies position 14 in the total value of pharmaceuticals produced worldwide. These figures clearly demonstrate the affordability of generic medicines produced in India. There are a good number of pharmaceutical companies in India with world class production facilities as demonstrated by their US FDA, WHO-GMP, EU-GMP, and 150 9001:2000 certifications.
Counterfeit drugs, nonetheless, remain a real challenge. Some of the current drug resistances in conditions such as malaria are due to counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The government of India in conjunction with regulatory departments around the world and pharmaceutical distributors need to work closely together to combat this imminent threat to human life. Some of the steps that could be taken include amongst others, proper bar-coding of products, proper registration, responsible and ethical pharmaceutical distribution operations, supervision of sale and manufacturing of drugs, and proper post marketing surveillance systems.
Members of the public need to be educated about the regulation of pharmaceutical drugs and be encouraged to report any adverse effects of medicines either prescribed by their doctor or bought from pharmacies. This system will ensure that only safe and effective medicines are used by the public.
The emergence of the Indian pharmaceutical industry presents clear opportunities for cost reduction of medicines throughout the world. The Indo-Africa Pharma Business Meet will certainly result in distribution agreements and sourcing of pharmaceuticals from India to Botswana. There is also a window of opportunity for capacity building and skills transfer in pharmaceutical manufacturing, an area that will present many opportunities for Botswana as a country and our community at large. As we manage the risk associated with this process of sourcing products from India we must also manage the expectation in relation to the time it takes to register products in Botswana. The lead times need to reduce if we are to start benefiting from these opportunities.