Drugs industry says near collapse, urges protection

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ZIMBABWE’S pharmaceutical industry is lobbying government to implement protectionist measures, saying imports from the region and across the globe have brought the once vibrant sector to its knees.
The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) also asked government to lower imports on packaging material as well as to push for the removal of non-tariff barriers affecting exports to neighbouring South Africa.
“The industry, once the envy of the region and only second to South Africa in the SADC, region is now on the verge of collapse and facing numerous challenges emanating essentially from an unfavourable policy and legislative environment which favours importation of drugs at the expense of locally manufacturing them,” PMA said in a position paper seen by The Source.
“In order to save and resuscitate local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, the government of Zimbabwe should come up with measures to protect the industry from cheap, substandard and counterfeit drugs imported or smuggled into the country.”
The industry also wants a 30 percent price preference to local manufacturing companies against imported drugs on all public tenders. Currently, the local companies enjoy a 10 percent price preference.
“Protection is not a bad word. It has been exercised with very positive results by most countries including Zimbabwe. This will give the industry time and space to recover and gain global competitiveness,” it said.
PMA also asked government to negotiate with South African authorities to allow drugs from Zimbabwe entry into South Africa by road through the Beitbridge border post saying the current arrangement which requires drugs to be air-freighted was not sustainable.
“If this fails, the Zimbabwean authorities should reciprocate by banning entry of all drug imports from South Africa by road through Beitbridge or any other border post except by air-freight through Harare International Airport,” the drug manufacturers said.Advertisement