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How the pharmaceutical industry can propel Africa to the forefront of healthcare

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is having a profound effect on the pharmaceutical industry, as new technology is assisting with earlier diagnoses, enhanced manufacturing capabilities, and improved treatment plans by using data to better understand patients' needs, said Cipla South Africa CEO, Paul Miller, at the BRICS 2018 summit, held in Johannesburg.

Paul Miller, Cipla South Africa CEO
Paul Miller, Cipla South Africa CEO
“Data will be the biggest driver behind changes in healthcare and will be the catalyst for quantum leaps in terms of medical research,” said Miller.

The theme for BRICS 2018, where Cipla is one of the sponsors, is “BRICS in Africa: Cooperation with developing countries for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. BRICS comprises five emerging economics: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (which was included as from 2010).

Cipla Medpro South Africa (Pty) Limited (“Cipla Medpro”), is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cipla Limited, India, and used technology to accelerate the launches of innovative medication such as the first breath-actuated inhaler and, more recently, the first oncology biosimilar in South Africa, namely filgrastim.

BRICS also focuses on economic and trade cooperation among the group members: “In partnership with Cipla India, we’ve been able to bring affordable healthcare to more South Africans, thereby increasing the number of patients on life-saving medication for therapeutic areas such as HIV, oncology, respiratory and neurological conditions.” For example, in 2001, Cipla pioneered a fixed-dose antiretroviral (ARV) combination, reducing the cost of ARVs from $12,500 annually to less than $1 per day. This cost of this medication has since been reduced to $0.30 per day.

Further highlighting Cipla’s commitment to investment in South Africa, and manufacturing in Africa for Africa, Cipla has invested substantially in enhancing local facilities such as the Cipla Medpro Manufacturing plant in KwaZulu-Natal, transforming it into an economically viable operation with significantly increased production capacity for ARVs. The company recently announced plans to acquire a 100% stake in Mirren, a South African over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor, further increasing Cipla’s local manufacturing footprint.

Cipla’s corporate social responsibility division, the Cipla Foundation, is aligned the government’s 2030 National Development Plan, and focuses on quality healthcare for all, quality education, creating new jobs and building new infrastructure. “The Cipla Foundation initiatives, Sha’p Left, Owethu, Ajuga and Miles for Smiles works to make a tangible by providing quality, cost-conscious healthcare and community services to low-income groups in South Africa."

Miller states that partnerships between government and the private sector is vital in terms of advancing healthcare for South Africans, and the rest of Africa.

“Our continued relationship with the South African Government and the National Department of Health has enabled us to continually build on three vital aspects: accessibility, local manufacturing and social change,” Miller concludes.

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