Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical market leader, Square Pharmaceuticals, will kick off the production of crucial medicines at its Sh8.4 billion factory in Machakos County early next year.
The multibillion plant built on over six hectares of land at the export processing zones (EPZ) in Athi River will produce malarial and diabetes drugs, among other essential medicine.
The company management revealed that they will manufacture more than 2 billion tablets and capsules per year, making it the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in East and Central Africa.
“Kenya will receive technology and training to manufacture difficult to make anti-malarial, anti-retroviral, anti-hypertensive, anti-psychotic and anti-diabetic drugs,” said the company in a statement Monday.
The plant is expected to help minimize the country’s dependency on imported pharmaceutical imports and reduce the cost of drugs, the company further said.
“Square’s investment to Kenya has come with a potential to transform a pharmaceutical import dependent country to a net exporter of pharmaceuticals soon,” said Tapan Chowdhury, managing director of Square Pharmaceuticals.
Reduce cost of drugs
Kenya imports medicines worth Sh65 billion annually, according to official statistics.
Apart from lowering the cost of drugs, it is expected to increase access to genuine drugs given the challenge of counterfeits and also generate 700 direct jobs.
“We believe that, local pharmaceutical production has a potential to drastically reduce the cost of drugs by 40 per cent and bring about greater access to essential medicines while at the same time promoting the agenda of universal health care,” he said.
Mr Chowdhury added that they expect phase 1 of the plant to be operational by the start of 2022 at which point they will be able to offer 500 jobs for skilled and unskilled Kenyans.
“More direct and indirect employment opportunities are projected as we roll out phase 2 and 3 of the project,” stated Mr Chowdhury.
The company expects the plant to spur more demand in Kenya of local graduates of industrial pharmacy, engineering and chemistry.
Square expects to transfer its manufacturing technology from its parent company in Bangladesh to Kenya.
“This facility shall facilitate pharmaceuticals manufacturing capacity building for Kenya, which shall reduce Kenya’s medicine import dependency,” said the company.
Square Pharmaceuticals is accredited by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) UK, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Australia and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) as well as the Kenyan Pharmacy and Poison Board (PPB).
With a market cap of $3 billion (Sh336 billion), Square Pharmaceuticals is the leader of Bangladesh pharmaceuticals market and the flagship company of Bangladesh conglomerate Square Group, which comprises of 27 companies and over 60,000 employees operating across a number sectors including textiles, IT, consumer product, toiletries, banking, insurance, media and agro-processing.
In 2020-2021 financial period the Square Pharmaceuticals turnover was close to $700 million from supply of medicines to 45 countries.