By ORTON KIISHWEKO

The country’s move to raise fears over some trade agreements at the international level highlights the importance of the local pharmaceutical industry to grow bigger and thrive with the view to reach local communities fast and to cater for their health needs.

Officials say the controversial moves can restrict access to cheaper drugs in the country.

Dr. Bennet Fimbo, formerly... working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and National Aids Control Programme, told the Sunday News” that such moves can restrict countries with limited resources to access the drugs.

“This can be a big challenge and can scuttle gain made against some diseases” he said.
He noted that such restrictions on markets can translate into decreased pipeline of affordable versions of important medications for people in developing countries.

However, such issues also highlighted the also highlighted the importance of the local pharmaceutical industry to grow bigger and thrive with the view to reach local communities fast to cater for their health needs.

Observers in the sector paint an optimistic picture, noting that the country’s pharmaceutical industry is on a rebound, riding on the back of increased expenditure in healthcare and general economic growth over the years.

Sales of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs have recently clocked billions in double figure and many largely attribute this to public procurement as the major investments being taken by some pharmaceuticals.

The government has made some important reforms in the health sector which has resulted in efficient procurement processes,” says Dr. Sanjay Advani the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shelys pharmaceutical.

Aside from private hospitals and Non Governmental run organizations, the government is the largest buyer of drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Despite the growth counterfeit drugs pose a big threat to the industry. But players are betting on the efforts by Tanzania Food and Drug Authority to fend off the onslaught of counterfeits.

Looking at the local scene, Dr. Sanjay Advani of Shelys Africa, otherwise largely known as a beacon of hope in Sub Saharan Africa, attributes part of their growth to the response from consumers to some of their medication such a Diclopar, Sheladol and Malafin.

Over the years, he says local drugs as Diclopar, Sheladol and Malafin have become household names with both consumers and the health care fraternity getting accustomed to them.

“The reason for this could be the proven efficacy of the drugs coupled with their affordability,” he says. He informs that whatever reason one would give such pharmaceuticals have cemented their position on issues of trust in Sub Saharan Africa.

In an interview with ‘Sunday News”, Dr. Advani revealed that the pharmaceutical company did not actually start with its current gigantic size. It has its humble origins starting as a diminutive family business in 1956 and has over the years, established itself to be one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in East Africa.

With footprints in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Uganda and Kenya it sits at spot one in script marking of crucial therapeutic categories such as cough and cold, Anti ineffectives and nutraceuticals.

Others, he notes are, Antimalarials gastro intestinal, pain management and fever and topical, Disinfectants, social marketing, cardiovascular and erectile dysfunction.
Clinching a couple of awards in the recent past, he notes castsoptimism on the local industry.

Having been honoured with two prestigious awards from Confederation of Tanzania Industries given by President Kikwete, it not only won the Large Industry Award but also Manufacturer of the Year 2009 Award.
“Its significance meant something since it meant that the community was recognizing the role that such a pharmaceutical plays Healthcare of communities along quality lines.” Says Dr. Advani.

Looking at The Industry’s Future
With research being important in the industry, he informs that they remain stronger in developing new molecules with the view to answer the needs of the consumers across the continent.
“Our passion lies in ensuring that products are riding along global health trends across the world so that we keep Tanzania’s name on the global pharmaceutical map, “he says.

Currently, the new therapeutic areas they are looking at adding into the current Basket include: Anti malarial, Anti Tuberculosis drugs, Skin preparations, Anti diarrhoeal, cardiolog and Lifestyle diseases, which are currently affecting large population both in rural and urban Tanzania.

However, they also have relations with larger global pharmaceutical companies as Aspen pharmaceutical, based in South Africa.

It was just three years ago when Aspen acquired 60 percent of the share capital of Shelys Africa Limited, which has operations in Sub Saharan Africa.

According to the doctor, under the Shelys Africa umbrella are two companies Shelys based in Tanzania that is a leader in script market and Beta healthcare which is a leader in the over the counter (OTC) market and based out of Kenya.

He notes that such a formidable alliance provides the foundation of global players as Aspen to expand into the East and Central African market.

“This would further enable the establishment of an affordable, quality, brand presence on the continent, he says.

Seeking to improve on manufacturing capabilities, their sister company Beta Healthcare recently relocated to the prestigious state of the art cGMP WHO compliant Factory on a five acre plot n industrial area.

“This will enable us increase manufacturing capabilities and penetrate into virgin markets across the continent.” He says.

But at the local level, Shelys just recently upgraded and is now capable of manufacturing solids, liquids, capsules and penicillin.

In principle and what the future holds, the player in the industry believes in having Quality Management system that ensures that the products that reach the consumer are safe efficacious and effective.

“We have to ensure that responsible personnel are well qualified and have the needed experience in their respective fields.” He says noting that being well equipped with all the necessary equipment is important in building the industry.

“Raw materials have to be sampled and tested while the packing materials and all the manufactured products must be rigorously surveyed to ensure they meet the respective predetermined specifications.” He informs.

To move forward the pharmaceuticals industry, he believes in reaching customers fast to cater for their health needs.
“That belief in Integrity should thrive – Ensuring that products are safe for users.” He says

To many, for the health sector to further grow, affordability and accessibility are issues that every Tanzanian craves for and Dr. Advani says that is where the sector should focus

SUNDAY NEWS February 13, 2011

Television Interview videos..

Aspen Wolrd Water Day
Golden Hands - Visionary CEO
Interview with KTN, Dr. Sanjay Advani
Interview with UBC TV Uganda, 01.10.2014, Dr Sanjay Advani
CEO - KTN Interview on Herbal Medicaments
When Beta Healthcare unveiled an R&D centre
Interview with UBC TV Uganda, Dr Sanjay Advani
CEO - NTV Morning Show Interview (Herbal Medicaments) - Part I
CEO - NTV Morning Show Interview (Herbal Medicaments) - Part I
Interview with Capital TV - Tanzania, Dr Sanjay Advani
Interview with Cloud TV, Tanzania, Dr. Sanjay