Generic medicine manufacturers in South Africa have been applauded for their critical role in securing sufficient medicines for those in need in the face of challenges presented by not only COVID conditions but also serious ingredients supply issues.

In a media statement at the weekend, Vivian Frittelli, CEO of industry body for generic and biosimilar manufacturers, GBMSA (formerly the National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers – NAPM), explained that the closing down of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) factories in India and China – the factories responsible for the manufacturing of the active ingredients in generic medicines – threatened the inflow of crucial medicine components.

“This,” he said, “forced local manufacturers to find alternative API sources at short notice to ensure the continuous supply of products. Similarly, when the Indian government banned exports of APIs, the GBMSA leveraged its partnership with the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance to negotiate a solution and ultimately reverse the ban.”

The combination of increasing worldwide demand for life-saving ICU treatments and severe global supply chain constraints – including almost zero flights to the country for a while -threatened critical shortages of medicines to treat those suffering from both COVID and non-COVID related conditions.

Many manufacturers, Frittelli added, absorbed huge increases in freight charges, sometimes up to 500%, and continued to ensure supply within the single exit prices. Various member companies also managed to obtain the license, at short notice, to import the COVID-indicated Remdesivir for hospitalized patients.

While the pandemic is not over, Frittelli acknowledged that the industry had also learnt much during the past two years: “The pandemic has forced us all headlong into a new reality which has given us a resilience that will stand us in good stead to weather any future disruptions.”

SOURCE: GBMSA Media Release issued by Heidi Kruger.