12 August 2008

Uganda: Locally-Made ARVs Go on Sale

Kampala — THE first Ugandan-made Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs are now on sale in the country.

Emmanuel Katongole, the chief executive of Quality Chemical Industries, a pharmaceutical company manufacturing the drug, said yesterday the Luzira-based factory produces 60 million tablets everyday.

"In Uganda, there are about 300,000 HIV/AIDS patients who require ARVS. The 60 million tablets we make everyday is a good beginning," he observed, adding that they had capacity to expand production very soon.

Meeting about 20 permanent secretaries of various ministries at the plant, Katongole said the tablets were being sold to accredited centers.

"The Government is the biggest client. We also sell to several charity organisations which deal in HIV/AIDS. A dose costs $8 (about sh12,800)," he told The New Vision on phone.

The plant, which President Yoweri Museveni launched early this year, has been licensed by the National Drug Authority.

"Officials from the World Health Organisation inspected our premises. They said they were impressed but are yet to grant us their licence," marketing director George Baguma added.

He explained that the company had put in place several safety measures to guarantee quality.

"For any tablet we sell, we store a sample and use it to examine the drug's quality basing on the feedback we get from our clients."

Quality Chemical Industries is the first factory in Africa to produce ARVs. It works in collaboration with CIPLA, the leading ARV-drug producers based in India.

Katongole said expatriates were training local pharmacists to take over production after five years.

"We shall employ about 600 when the company takes off fully."

He complained about the unreliable electricity, saying it costs the company a lot of money. "Whenever power goes off, we spend sh5m per hour to run the plant using generators."

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