IntroductionThere is a failure to supply a basic range of essential medicines, which may be responsible for millions of unnecessary deaths across Africa. There are several reasons why medicines are unavailable or unaffordable in Africa, including weak regulation and poor quality control, as well as an inability to manufacture drugs locally.
Pharmaceutical companies in Africa fail to supply a basic range of essential medicinesThe situation is exacerbated by pharmaceutical companies in Africa not supplying a basic range of essential medicines. The UN Economic Commission for Africa has identified the five most common public health problems in African countries: malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections. Yet there are no medicines to treat these diseases for many low-income countries because of monopolies or patent laws that prevent competition. In addition to this problem, there is also a lack of transparency as to how much money pharmaceutical companies make from selling their products in Africa compared with other parts of the world, which makes it difficult to determine whether they are making sufficient profits to supply medicines at reasonable prices.
A lack of essential medicines may be responsible for millions of unnecessary deaths across AfricaThe lack of access to medicines is a major cause of disease and death in Africa. Medicines are unavailable because they are too expensive or the right quantity is unavailable.
There are several reasons why medicines are unavailable or unaffordable in Africa, including weak regulation and poor quality control, as well as an inability to manufacture drugs locallyThere are several reasons why medicines are unavailable or unaffordable in Africa, including weak regulation and poor quality control, as well as an inability to manufacture drugs locally.
- Weak regulation: In many African countries, the laws that govern drug manufacturing and distribution are inadequate. In addition to being poorly enforced, they do not provide strong protection for intellectual property rights (IPRs). Without a robust system of IPRs that protects manufacturers from copycats who seek to profit from their work without paying them for it, companies will not invest in developing new drugs for Africa. This means that there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest heavily in research and development (R&D) on products specifically designed for use in Africa, where there is high demand but low purchasing power per capita income levels relative compared with many other regions around the world where average incomes are much higher than those found within sub-Saharan Africa region
- Poor quality control: Many African countries lack adequate regulatory oversight over drug production facilities which means there may be insufficient checks on whether medicines produced by these facilities comply with international standards set out by bodies such as World Health Organization (WHO) or US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Poor quality control also means consumers cannot rely upon getting what they pay for when purchasing medication; instead, some patients may receive ineffective or even harmful treatments due to faulty packaging errors
- Lack of local manufacturing capacity; Low economies-of scale lead firms operating within the same industry segment into competition with each other rather than collaborating on joint projects, which might result in innovative breakthroughs but instead only results in increased pressure downwards on prices paid per unit sold due to lower overhead costs associated with running smaller operations alongside one another rather than aggregating resources into larger ones that generate greater economies