Pharmaceutical companies hold a substantial share of the worldwide coatings industry through their coating of tablets, capsules and other solid dosage forms of medicine that continue to record increased consumption globally.
The coating, which comes in the form of a sugar coating, film coating or microencapsulation, is necessary to protect the drug from the effects of stomach acids and also to cushion stomach linings from the product’s reactive agents, according to experts. The coating comes either as a sugar or polymeric to cover or mask the drug’s taste, odor and also control how it is dissolved and assimilated in the body.
Therefore, the anticipated expansion of the Kenya pharmaceutical industry, with more than 35 licensed drug manufacturers, is expected to fuel the use of coating solutions as both the international and local industries in the country expand their operations. Their expansion is also likely to result in increased investment in hardware and software especially for automated coating systems.
Analysts and market researchers support Kenya’s pharmaceutical industry growth prediction on the back of “rising investor confidence, increasing disposable incomes, good economic projections and several marketing initiatives by top brands.”
Global market researcher Euromonitor International said in 2016, Kenya’s health industry “witnessed numerous re-brandings, mergers and acquisitions to enhance corporate sales and consumer loyalty.”
BMI Research also said the East Africa country’s pharmaceutical industry is seen as an attractive destination by drug manufacturers because of its “favorable growth outlook, driven by its evolving disease burden and expanding healthcare coverage.”
Demand for pharmaceutical products is expected to rise substantially in coming years mainly because of “mounting overall population growth, expanding health cover by insurance firms, improving general public healthcare provisions, media awareness, partnerships with global firms, and projections of a strong gross domestic product performance of over 6 percent,” according to Euromonitor International.
Leading international pharmaceutical companies such as Glaxo Smithkline, Merck & Co, Norvatis and Pfizer have a presence in the Kenyan market, which is the largest in East and Central Africa. Local firms such as Beta Healthcare are also scaling up their operations to take advantage of the increasing demand for pharmaceutical products with previous estimates putting the pharmaceutical and consumer health market at $160 million/year.
“Though GlaxoSmithKline East Africa Ltd maintained a lead in consumer health in Kenya on grounds of its strong brands such as Panadol, other local firms, such as Cosmos Ltd and Dawa Ltd, intensified their marketing and promotional activities as well as maximizing positioning on low prices and intensive infrastructural investments, in order to augment their annual sales during 2016,” said Euromonitor.
The market researcher cited the recent opening up of a manufacturing plant by Dawa Ltd in Thika town, 50 kilometers from the capital Nairobi to increase its production. The Nairobi-based company operates in 10 African countries and manufactures more than 230 pharmaceutical products.
Other drug manufacturers such as Astra-Zeneca, Merck KGaA & Astellas are said to have long-term health plans targeting ailments such as hypertension, clinical diabetes and obstetric fistula in Kenya.
The emergence of Kenya as a top investment destination for international and drug makers in East Africa is also linked to what business lobby agency Business Sweden sais is “an increasing trend in communicable and non-communicable diseases coupled with insufficient provision of vital health products such as vaccines and medicines.”
In addition, the government has continued to fine-tune its regulatory framework to make it more suitable for pharmaceutical product manufacturers.
In 2016, the Finance ministry announced import tax exemptions for heating, ventilation and air conditioners for the pharmaceutical industry to “encourage compliance with good manufacturing practices as dictated by the World Health Organization.
The growth of the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya is likely to get a major boost from the implementation of the East Africa Community’s Regional Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Action for the EAC, which spells out how the country in partnership with Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi can develop an efficient and effective pharmaceutical manufacturing industry that will supply the national, regional and international markets with medicines.
“Access to affordable, high-quality and efficacious health care products, particularly those used in the treatment of priority communicable and non-communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, Chronic Respiratory Diseases and Cancers and various Neglected Tropical Diseases is of high national priority in each of the EAC Partner States,” said Richard Sezibera, former secretary general of EAC, a regional six-member intergovernmental organization.
The plan of action, which is estimated to cost $45 million raised from the six EAC member States, development partners and the pharmaceutical industry, hopes to promote competitive and efficient pharmaceutical production within East Africa and also facilitate increased investment in pharmaceutical production within the region according to Sezibera.
Many analysts believe Kenya’s pharmaceutical segment is on a rebound and the growth is expected to support the industry’s coatings use not only in terms of the product itself but also the equipment used in the coating of pharmaceutical products.