Looking locally: More support is being given to domestic pharmaceuticals producers

Representing 25% of the French-speaking African market, the Ivoirian pharmaceuticals sector grew 8% between 2011 and 2012, and is expected to continue expanding as the country recovers from the recent conflict. Popular medications include drugs for infectious diseases, inflammation medications, antibiotics against bacteria, and medicines for mother- and child-related illnesses. Rising demand from population growth and the conflict necessitated an increase in pharmaceuticals spending from 27.24% of total health expenditure in 2007 to 60% in 2013, making Côte d’Ivoire an attractive potential site for production.

LOCAL PRODUCTION: Domestic output is valued at CFA6bn (€9m) for private production and CFA8bn (€12m) for generic production. Out of seven existing pharmaceuticals factories, four are currently active while three are being refurbished. Major market players include Cipharm Côte d’Ivoire, a former subsidiary of French producer Sanofi, which maintains the highest domestic production revenues at CFA4bn (€6m) annually, followed by OLA with CFA2.5bn (€3.75m), Chinese producer League Pharma with CFA1.6bn (€2.4m) and PharmIvoire with CFA800m (€1.2m).

Despite growing local needs, the national health care system consumes only 10% of locally produced drugs, leaving the majority to be exported, while 90% of generics and 80% of antiretroviral drugs are imported from outside Africa, particularly from India. Weak consumption of domestically manufactured pharmaceuticals is primarily accounted for by fierce price competition from international drug producers in Côte d’Ivoire, forcing local producers to export. “Côte d’Ivoire does not produce essential drugs nor does it have import limits on generics. The market is open to all pharmaceuticals producers whose technical standards and production sites meet the World Health Organisation’s good manufacturing practices requirements,” Assane Coulibaly, deputy director-general at Cipharm, told OBG. “This exposes local producers to strong competition from China and India, which developed their pharmaceutical industries with the aid of subsidies and protectionist measures that do not benefit Francophone Africa.”

COST FACTORS: Although imported products are 20% cheaper than locally fabricated drugs, this savings is reduced by transport costs, Customs charges and transit delays; after production, many pharmaceuticals are stored for months before being shipped to foreign markets. By the time products reach the Ivoirian pharmacy shelves, many are approaching their expiration dates.

“Increasing local production would eliminate high transport costs while achieving economies of scale and creating a high-value-added industry,” Coulibaly told OBG.” In that way, Côte d’Ivoire could become a regional hub for drug production.”

GENERICS: Importing products also has an effect on the sale of generics. Despite high sector growth, the non-brand generics market accounts for only 15% of drug sales in Côte d’Ivoire, while brand name generics represent 65% of the market and patented medications represent 10%. One major explanation for the weak penetration of non-brand generic products is the uncertainty of quality assurance from foreign labs. Imported drugs are frequently inferior or even counterfeit, presenting unfair competition to quality labs and introducing serious health risks. As a result, many buyers in Côte d’Ivoire opt to purchase more expensive brand-name medicines to ensure quality and accountability.

“Local production of generics could guarantee better traceability and enable local regulatory agencies to carry out continuous monitoring of operations formation,” Coulibaly told OBG.

STATE SUPPORT: To address issues related to inadequate quality and unfair competition, the government has pledged to boost local production to up to 50% of national needs while developing knowledge of traditional medicines. Production increases of up to 20% of domestic needs over the next five years will be facilitated by local and regional promotional organisations. Initiatives that provide secure locations with access to distribution routes for producers will be necessary.

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The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2013

Health & Education chapter from The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2013

Cover of The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2013

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