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May 20, 2011

Noncommunicable diseases drive lucrative West Africa pharmaceuticals market

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With the adoption of a more western lifestyle, characterised by less healthy diets and more sedentary activities, across West African countries like Nigeria and Ghana, the incidence of non-communicable diseases, particularly hypertension and diabetes, have increased, reports market research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

As the demand for chronic medicines for these conditions surges, lucrative market opportunities, particularly in the generics market, have opened up.

Analysis indicates that the pharmaceutical industry in Ghana and Nigeria earned revenues of $970-million in 2009, and Frost & Sullivan estimates this will reach $2,3-billion in 2016.

“The dual burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases in Ghana and Nigeria is the main driver for growth of the pharmaceuticals industry in the region,” notes Frost & Sullivan research analyst Tinotenda Sachikonye.

“Second and third, only to anti-infectives, in terms of contribution to the 2009 annual pharmaceuticals industry revenues in Ghana and Nigeria were medicines for cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.”

Treatment for diabetes and cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, is typically chronic, thereby creating a continual demand for diabetes and hypertension medicines. Several foreign generics companies have entered the West African market and more local manufacturers are focusing on medicines to treat hypertension and diabetes.

However, as the major proportion of consumers in Ghana and Nigeria are price sensitive, competition with low-cost Asian generics is a challenge for the majority of participants in the market. The cost of conducting business for local manufacturers is particularly high.

“Price is an important purchasing criterion for the Ghana National Health Insurance (NHI), which covers 66,4% of the population in Ghana. The NHI will only pay for generics,” explains Sachikonye. “Further, government tenders in both countries are awarded mainly on the basis of price.”

It is important that companies in this market identify their target customers and differentiate themselves accordingly. Although the majority of consumers in the region are price sensitive, several others are brand loyal and willing to pay the cost for their preferred brands, he says.

“Although pricing is a major determinant of success in Ghana and Nigeria, other factors, such as having good-quality products, having a robust distribution network, good marketing strategies and brand recognition, are equally important. Pharmaceuti-cals companies can leverage these factors to attain a competitive position in the market,” concludes Sachikonye.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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