The growing incidence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) across sub-Saharan Africa, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease, in addition to infectious and parasitic illness, will present the pharmaceutical industry in Africa with a business opportunity of $40.8-billion in 2019, a new study shows.
However, owing to a heavy dependence on price, coupled with complexities associated with public sector tendering, it is difficult for multinationals to compete in this space, research firm Frost & Sullivan (F&S) has pointed out.
The private market, on the other hand, faces challenges with regard to fragmented payer channels between donors, private insurance payers and employers, even as high out-of-pocket expenses restrict patient access to medicines.
"An increase in health spending will encourage the local manufacture of drugs. We expect this increase in local formulation and filling to be protected by regulatory and tariff barriers, so international players will be looking for local contract manufacturers and other strategic partnerships,” said F&S transformational health research analyst Saravanan Thangaraj.
Further, investment was further driven by trends such as the improving regulatory environment in East Africa that is contributing to increasing regional harmonisation.
Pharmaceutical spending in Africa was also noted to be growing by 10.6%, with out-of-pocket spend on healthcare increasing, while the contribution of NCDs to the healthcare burden in Africa was set to rise by 21% through 2030.
The share of over-the-counter drugs in the region is also high, indicative of a culture of self-medication in Nigeria and Kenya.
“Addressing loopholes in the supply chain and distribution channels is crucial for foreign companies to ensure product availability and prevent circulation of counterfeit drugs.
“Investing in technical training of distributors and pharmacists, and product-specific initiatives like barcodes and holograms to track counterfeits, can also help minimise drug trafficking and enhance the brand’s image,” added Thangaraj.