Pharmaceutical Partnerships for Increased Access to Quality Essential Medicines in the East African Region

Pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is research-based, technology-intensive and highly controlled. Many African countries lack capacity to manufacture essential medicines and partnerships may be necessary for leverage of knowledge and technology which are the basis for innovation. This study aimed to establish the innovation capacity of the Eastern Africa pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, identify barriers to Public/Private Partnerships and establish a framework for an impactful pharmaceutical cross-sector partnership system which is pivotal in competitiveness of the industry. A survey was conducted in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, academia and research institutions. The data collection method encompassed comprehensive review, analysis of relevant literature, face-to-face interviews and filling in of structured questionnaires by respondents. There are about 60 pharmaceutical manufacturers in the region; 35 in Kenya, 11 in Uganda 12 in Tanzania and 9 in Ethiopia. They produce mostly non-sterile medicines comprising tablets, capsules, syrups, suspensions, ointments and creams. Only 28% of the products in the national essential medicines are currently being produced, majority being for management of communicable diseases. Average production capacity utilization was 43% for Kenya. Research and Development scientists and personnel with special skills are few. Respondents stated that policies impacting local industry were incoherent, insufficient and lacked consultation during formulation. Furthermore, there is no linkage between academia, research institutes and pharmaceutical industry. An industry-research institution partnership for product innovation in line with public health priorities articulated by the government is necessary.