Kenyan Company Starts Manufacturing ARV Drugs

May 13, 2019

A pharmaceutical company has started manufacturing ARV drugs marking the first time commercial ARVs are being manufactured in the country.

Universal Corporation, based in Kikuyu, last week produced 3 million tablets and has a capacity to produce 1 million tablets a day. CEO Perviz Dhanani said the factory got its final certification from the World Health Organization (WHO) last year, allowing it to begin commercial production.

“We have the capacity to produce one million tablets a day. The WHO certification means we can receive orders from governments and global agencies such as Unicef and Global Fund.” the CEO said.

In 2016, the company sold a majority share (51%) to Bangalore-based Pharma Strides Shasun for Sh1.1 billion. It produces about 100 different pharmaceutical products sold in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.

The first batch has already been ordered by Cote d’Ivoire, and is a combination of Nevirapine, Lamivudine, and Zidovudine.

While this may come as great news to Kenyan HIV patients, our supply of the drugs may still continue to be sourced from other countries, since our government does not foot the bill. About Sh38 billion is spent on the drugs in Kenya, translating to about Sh1,800 per patient per month. However, most of this money comes from organizations such as the Global Fund and the US Presidential Emergency Fund for Aids Relief.

They source their supply cheaply from India.

However, the Kikuyu factory has received necessary approvals to start supplying to these bodies, and time will tell whether they actually get orders.

Health CS Cecily Kariuki visited the facility last week and lauded this new development.

“This will boost the capacity of local manufacturers and create more employment opportunities for the economy and facilitate technology and skills transfer,” the CS said.

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