A Kenyan pharmaceutical company has won World Health Organisation (WHO) certification for one of its drugs, opening the door to lucrative tenders floated by the Global Fund.
Universal Corporation’s Lamozid, an anti-retroviral drug, was pre-qualified last Friday and included in a list of about 255 drugs approved for the fund which spends Sh2 trillion annually on combating malaria, Aids, tuberculosis, and more recently, reproductive health.
“Prequalification portends increased business for us and raises the bar in terms of the standard of factories in Kenya,” said Palu Dhanani the UCL managing director.
The company is also seeking to have the milder form of the same drug for children pre-qualified before May next year.
Researching and developing the drug cost Sh200 million ($2 million) whereas the construction of a new high standard laboratory — which is prerequisite for inspection — cost a further Sh400 million($4 million).
UCL currently exports its medicines to countries such as Sierra Leone, Malawi and Mozambique with Kenya Medical Supplies Agency being its major local customer.
“Initially, we will participate in tenders that are majorly within Africa before pursuing others from around the world,” said Mr Dhanani.
Kenya now joins South Africa, Egypt and Zimbabwe as the only countries in Africa with WHO pre-qualified drugs. In keeping with the now-intensifying pace to penetrate the export market, three other local drug makers have already submitted drugs to WHO for pre-qualification.
Cosmos Limited, Regal Pharmaceuticals and Lab and Allied Pharmaceuticals individually applied last month to have their medicines prequalified. If cleared, the drugs would be in line to compete in the next Global Fund tender due next June.
“Cosmos has recently submitted three drugs for prequalification with the intended target being the export market as well as global institutions which usually insist on WHO-certified drugs,” said Pratkash Patel, the Cosmos chairman.