Pharmaceutical sector applauds duty review

HARARE – Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector say there is now a glimmer of hope following measures that were taken by the government to reduce duty and value added tax that was being levied on imported raw materials and packaging used by the pharmaceutical industry.

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This came out during the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) annual stakeholder meeting held in Harare this Wednesday.

As stakeholders in the pharmaceutical and health sectors gather at the annual stakeholders forum organised by MCAZ, the promotion and protection of local medicines against cheap imports remains a topical issue.

Most pharmaceutical products that are available locally are being imported as it is cheaper to bring in medicines as opposed to producing them locally.

Chairperson of the Pharmaceutical Association of Zimbabwe Mr Emmanuel Mujuru and Pharmacist Council of Zimbabwe president Mr Wilfred Gurupira say the measures taken by the government to reduce duty on imported raw materials and value added tax on packaging have brought a ray of hope.

“We are optimistic that the sector will benefit immensely from policies adopted by the government as imports from the region and across the globe had almost brought the once vibrant sector to its knees,” said Mr Mujuru.

“Local companies manufacture world class medicines that can compete on the international market but the sector was almost collapsing due to unfavourable policies,” Mr Gurupira said.

The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Cde Aldrin Musiiwa noted that the country’s pharmaceutical industry has the potential to supply the bulk of the country’s essential drugs requirements if given full support.

“The obtaining situation where local firms are suffering due to cheap imports is certainly not in the spirit of ZIM-ASSET, which promotes value addition and beneficiation as one of its four clusters,” said Cde Musiiwa.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries manufacturing sector survey report has shown a continued decline of pharmaceutical manufacturers capacity.

The country is getting almost 90 percent of essential drugs through donor-funded programmes yet it has been highlighted that such high dependence on donors for essential drugs poses a major health and security risk. – zbc

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