Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Uganda producing generic drugs: QCIL

How We Made It in Africa has published a groundbreaking story about an African pharmaceutical company that has successfully begun to produce generic drugs. The article is in the form of an interview with CEO and founder Emmanuel Katongole of Quality Chemical Industries Limited (QCIL), an Ugandan-based pharmaceutical company, which manufactures and sells combination therapy antiretroviral and antimalarial drugs.


The entire interview with HWMIIA's Kate Douglas is worth a read because the reasoning behind the business strategy has as much to do with worldwide IP policymaking as it does with servicing an African need with an African solution. It is also an abject case study on how least developed countries can take advantage of concessions within TRIPS, how partnering and agreement structuring should set the tone for successful technology transfer and also how an Indian drug company is offering their expertise and IP to benefit the company. Katongole describes their input as their “greatest source of competitive advantage”.

The insightful CEO is acutely aware of challenges which he describes as being “behind the experience curve”, "lack of [supporting] infrastructure" eg roads and "economies of scale", and "dumping from overseas":

“There is a practice of certain countries in the world to subsidise their exports in a bid to buy markets or export their unemployment...This means that such products are artificially cheap by world market standards, which are tantamount to dumping. Further, some multinationals .... dump their excess capacity into Africa disguised as corporate social responsibility (CSR). They also manipulate prices by cross-subsidising sales to Africa at low margins with more profitable sales in the West at high margins. Afro Leo says cross-subsidising this is not necessarily a bad thing and we see it in most industries but admits that it creates a challenge for local business

An additional interview with Katongole can be located here.

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