Pharmacists eye home-grown drug manufacturing

The Pharmaceutical Society of Botswana (PSB) says it welcomes ongoing plans by some investors to establish drug manufacturing in Botswana, as the move will lower the costs of products to Batswana. Speaking on the sidelines of the Society’s 26th Congress on Friday, PSB president, Bathusi Kgosietsile said while the organisation did not endorse a particular investor, it welcomed plans for the establishment of a pharmaceutical manufacturing sector.

At present, Botswana is limited to pharmaceutical wholesaling and distributing, with the products manufactured in other countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe. The reliance on imports has led to higher prices of drugs when compared to the countries where the products are manufactured. “At the moment we don’t have such a company, but yes some companies are in the process of setting up,” he said. “Almost hundred percent of our drugs come from outside the country and what we are saying is, yes, let us have a manufacturing plant with the hope that it will bring down the costs.

“We do not endorse any particular company as a Society, but if there was one, we would benefit like any Motswana would.” The 26-year-old Society is the professional body for pharmacists in Botswana, representing their interests to government, other health professionals and the general public. Quizzed on the entry into the market of homeopathic remedies, Kgosietsile said the Society had not noticed any influx of the new products. Homeopathic remedies are based on the medical philosophy that the body has the ability to heal itself. The products generally have a lower concentration of active ingredients and focus on the solution in which the active ingredient is dissolved. Several shops around Gaborone have opened up and store various homeopathic products for various ailments and conditions. Other enterprising distributors have taken to independently marketing their own in public places, leading to the Ministry of Health banning one such product in 2012. “Homeopathic drugs are not pharmaceutical per se,” said Kgosietsile.

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