KAMPALA. Uganda’s pharmaceutical firm, Cipla Quality Chemical Industries has exported the first consignment of HIV/Aids drugs worth $4m (about Shs13.4b) to Namibia, making it probably the largest order of ARV medicines out of East Africa.
The pharmaceutical company certified by WHO, was last year visited by presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Edgar Lungu of Zambia, who were persuaded by Uganda government to purchase its medicines.
The company says it makes about two million ARVs per day, along with anti-malarial and hepatitis B and C drugs.
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, who flagged off the export of about 70 tonnes of ARVs at Entebbe International Airport on Thursday, said the consignment is a sign of quality and trust in Uganda pharmaceutical products.
“It is gratifying to witness the confidence that the Republic of Namibia, a member of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), has in the trust of pharmaceutical products made in Uganda and the East African Community,” said Ms Kyambadde.
She commended the company’s management for its commitment to work with government to scale up pharmaceutical supplies to great heights. She said the company contributes about Shs550m to the government revenue basket per month, translating into Shs6.6b annually.
Ms Kyambadde said the $4m drug consignment exported by Cipla QCIL will help Uganda narrow its import-export gap by about 10 per cent.
Mr Nevin Bradford, the Cipla QCIL chief executive officer, said: “The consignment is believed to be the single largest ever export order of pharmaceuticals from an East African manufacturer, marking a milestone in a difficult industry that has high barriers to entry and to do business in the short run.”
He added that with persistent similar export quantities and access to markets, the pharmaceutical industry in Uganda and the region will benefit from bulk sales the will grow the industry and lower prices.
Nambia becomes the 7th country that Cipla QCIL has supplied medicines besides Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Comoros Islands. The company also intends to export about $2m (aboutShs6.6b) anti-malaria drugs to Zambia.
Mr Fredrick Mutebi Kitaka, the executive director for finance, said the company will focus on investing raw materials to make the cost of their drugs more affordable.
Currently, Uganda’s exports are estimated at $ 4.6b (aboutShs 15.4 trillion) against imports of $6.2b (about Shs20.7 trillion) translating into a deficit of about $2.4b(about Shs8 trillion).