13 December 2012

Uganda: Quality Chemicals Asks Gov't for Support

Luzira, Kampala — Quality Chemicals Industries have asked for government's support as the pharmaceutical plant strives to be the leading manufacturer of quality antiretroviral and antimalarial drugs in the region.

In a dialogue with the vice president Edward Ssekandi, the firm's chief executive officer (CEO) Emmanuel Katongole expressed their desire to build an own raw materials unit, but they would require government's intervention.

"We have a problem importing raw materials from India. They are expensive," said Katongole.

"Because the artemisia plant in Kabale is not approved by WHO [World Health Organization] we cannot buy from them."

He said the plant in Kabale exports its raw materials to India. And it is after India has processed them that they - Quality Chemicals - come to buy.

Ssekandi toured the Luzira-based pharmaceutical plant on Wednesday. The company also wants more access to the East African market with the help of government.

The plant only exports its finished goods to Kenya, but would want to get a hold of Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan as potential markets.

At home, National Medical Stores is the main customer for Quality Chemical's products.

The firm's production pharmacist Sam Opio took the vice president through the entire plant's building, explaining to him the different stages they go through to arrive at the final products.

Ssekandi said: "The plant produces medicine for our people, especially those with HIV and malaria; and they are employing many Ugandans."

He promised to make a report to President Yoweri Museveni and health minister Christine Ondoa and ask them to support the pharmaceutical plant.

"Since Uganda is part of the East African market, we can have a bigger market if we market our products well. They [Quality Chemicals] produce quality medicines. They should be exported."

Started seven years ago, the plant has grown and today produces about six million tablets a day.

"We are now approved by WHO. When we started, we were losing about 400 people every day to malaria, but this number has been reduced to less than 200, and our aim is to have it at zero," Katongole said.

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