MANUFACTURING

Bangladesh pharmaceutical enters Kenyan market

Square Pharmaceuticals facility has the capacity to produce over two billion tablets and capsules in a business year

In Summary
  • Kenya imports medicines worth $600 million (Sh65 billion) annually, according to official statistics.
  • The total cost of building the plant is estimated at Sh8.4 billion ($75 million)
Former Industrialization (now EAC) Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed and Square Pharmaceuticals chief executive Tapan Chowdhury during the groundbreaking for Sh8.4bn Square Pharmaceuticals plant in Athi River, Nairobi in 2018.
Image: FILE

A Bangladesh pharmaceutical firm, Square Pharmaceuticals plans to start production in Kenya following the completion of its Machakos plant.

This could lower the cost of malaria and diabetes drugs in the country which are normally imported mostly from Asian countries.

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.

In Kenya, there are an estimated 3.5 million new clinical cases of malaria and 10,700 deaths each year, with western Kenya and parts of Rift Valley being high risk areas.

The first phase of the plant lies on a six hectare land parcel at the tax-friendly Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Athi River with an initial investment of Sh2.8 billion ($25 million).

It has the capacity to produce over two billion tablets and capsules in a business year, making it the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in East and Central Africa, according to the company.

The total project cost is estimated at Sh8.4 billion ($75 million) and it is expected to help minimise the country’s dependency on pharmaceutical imports.

"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.

Kenya imports medicines worth $600 million (Sh65 billion) annually, according to official statistics.

The firm's managing director Tapan Chowdhury said local pharmaceutical production has the potential to cut the cost of drugs by 40 per cent.

The company expects the plant to open up opportunities of local graduates of industrial pharmacy, engineering and chemistry.

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 capitalisation of $3 billion (Sh336 billion), Square Pharmaceuticals is the leader of the Bangladesh pharmaceuticals market and the flagship company of Bangladesh conglomerate Square Group, which comprises 27 companies and over 60,000 employees operating across a number of sectors including textiles, IT, consumer product, toiletries, banking, insurance, media and agro-processing.

In the 2020-2021 financial period the Square Pharmaceuticals turnover was close $700 million from the supply of medicines to 45 countries.