Bangladeshi firm to make diabetes, malaria drugs in Kenya


Square Pharmaceuticals drugs on display at a past function. FILE PHOTO | NMG

One of Bangladesh’s largest drugmakers, Square Pharmaceuticals, will start producing medicines at its multibillion production facility in Kenya in the next four months, targeting unmet demand in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan.

The pharmaceutical firm started the construction of a plant in 2018 at the tax-friendly export processing zones (EPZ) in Athi River with an initial investment of Sh2.58 billion ($25 million) and now says it is ready to begin commercial production after the completion of the factory.

“We will hopefully be able to start manufacturing at the plant by July or August,” Tapan Chowdhury, managing director of Square Pharmaceuticals was quoted saying this week by local Bangladeshi media.

Trial production at the new facility is expected to begin on July 31. Among the drugs lined for production are drugs for diabetes, malaria, cardiovascular diseases and anti-psychotic diseases.

“The drugs that we intend to manufacture are branded generics that are on the World Health Organisation pre-qualified drugs list that the organisation has listed for treating priority diseases,” said Mr Chowdhury in 2018 during the groundbreaking.

In Bangladesh, the firm produces 637 pharmaceuticals exported to over 43 countries.

The Kenya plant is expected to minimise the country’s dependency on imported pharmaceutical imports and reduce the cost of drugs. Kenya imports medicines worth $600 million (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.