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Emzor: Fighting Malaria with Trailblazing Incountry API Production in Nigeria

As part of measures to tackle the menace of malaria, Nigeria pharma giant, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries, in partnership with European Development Bank has kicked off plans to produce Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, APIs, for antimalarial products in Nigeria, a first of its kind in the sub Saharan Africa. After a five-hour tour of the expansive Emzor Campus in Shagamu, Ogun State, Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the API plant, which will be ready by February 2024, ushers a new dawn in the accessibility and affordability of drugs to fight Malaria, which is a leading cause of illness and death, especially in young children in the continent

Malaria is a big deal. Why, you may ask? 

In 2020 alone, according to statistics by the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), an estimated 627,000 people died of malaria—mostly young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Malaria occurs mostly in poor tropical and subtropical areas of the world. In many of the countries affected by malaria, it is a leading cause of illness and death. In areas with high transmission, the most vulnerable groups are young children, who have not developed immunity to malaria yet, and pregnant women, whose immunity has been decreased by pregnancy. The costs of malaria – to individuals, families, communities, nations – are enormous.

But it’s not all depressing news. Infact, within the last decade, the CDC report titled ‘Malaria’s Impact Worldwide’ noted that increasing numbers of partners and resources have rapidly increased malaria control efforts, adding that this scale-up of interventions has saved millions of lives globally and cut malaria mortality by 36 per cent from 2010 to 2020, leading to hopes and plans for elimination and ultimately eradication.

Emzor’s API Trailblazing Project to the Rescue 

Here in Nigeria, a pharmaceutical giant has stepped up to help speed up the elimination of malaria through its

production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for antimalarial products. 

Seen as a new dawn in Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries recently undertook the trailblazing part to pioneer the mass production of APIs in Africa with the goal being to ensure commodity security and access to quality products across the continent.

The API plant, which is currently being built in the company’s expansive Emzor Campus in Shagamu, Ogun State, and will be ready by February 2024, is dedicated to production of antimalarial APIs via tech transfer in collaboration with a technical partner with a planned capacity of 400MCT annually.

In the long run, beyond curbing capital flight, the increased production of this APIs incountry will make a huge impact in the fight against malaria as it will not just increase access for users, but also ensure its affordability because it eliminated middle men from the production process.

According to the Chairman of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries, Emeka Okoli, the main objective of the project is “setting up a factory in Nigeria to produce Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for antimalarial products.

“At present, Emzor produces antimalarial FPP’s and is targeting API production as part of its growth strategy, backward integration and supply chain security. Also, help in part pioneer the mass production of APIs in Africa, ensuring commodity security and access to quality products across the continent.

“Emzor has partnered an Indian company, Mangalam Drugs & Organics Limited, a world renowned WHO/FDA approved producer of antimalarial APIs, intermediate and other specialty chemicals. Emzor has already signed an Agreement with Mangalam, who will advise and manage the implementation of the project as a tech transfer partner.”

Partnership with European Development Bank 

Giving wings to this top of the mill production was the partnership from the European Development Bank (EIB). 

The API Plant which will be completed by first quarter of next year is being funded with the loan grant of €13.85 million by EIB and it forms about 54 per cent of the entire financial implication of the plant construction.

A willing partner, EIB described the API Project as a new dawn in development and growth of Africa’s pharmaceutical industry. After the tour of the factory in Ogun State last Monday, the bank’s Investment Officer, Project Finance Division, Corporate Finance and Global Activities Department, Arthur Delor, said: “the Emzor’s API Project is a trailblazer in Africa as well as a new dawn in the development of pharmaceutical industry in the content.

” It is a great leap in the sector and the first of its kind in the sub Saharan Africa. It will ensure production of high quality products and its affordability in Africa. The API Project will indeed make a great impact and will resoundingly facilitate development of standards in the industry.

“The bank is glad to contribute to the project. This is because it will support global development. We believe that it is time for developing countries to start to be developed. Africa should be less dependent on importation, in this regard, local manufacturing is one of the best way to take Africa out of its current challenges. Africa as a place should start to contribute to global development, not just to depend on others and our choice of Emzor is very appropriate to pioneer this project in Africa.

“Emzor is well established and well positioned to make Africa, especially Nigeria a hub of quality products and supply chain. Emzor has a legacy of efficiency and good standards. It is a pharmaceutical industry we believe and know with adequate facilities and resources to make big change in Africa’s pharmaceutical development and growth.”

APIFA’s Input 

Apart from EIB who setup a dedicated fund for the development of API manufacturing in Africa, Emzor also found partnership in API for Africa (APIFA), a non-profit organisation championing API production in Africa. A thought partner providing access to financing, insights and support for access to markets.

In his remark at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of APIFA, Frankline Keter, who saw the project as an opportunity for the Kenya-based organisation to achieve its main aim and objectives said “At APIFA, our main aim is to facilitate the local production of APIs and other health products and technologies (HPTs) in sub-Sahara Africa.

“We do this by working with a multitude of critical stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, research institutes, and civil society, to address a major market challenge, the lack of not only API manufacturing capacity in sub-Sahara Africa, but also affordable medicines.

“It is a great privilege to witness this ceremony. This is a big deal in Africa, Emzor is setting the pace. This project will not only boost African Continental Free Trade but also encourage as well as support local producers to invest. What is left for us is to celebrate and congratulate ourselves for this great season in Africa.”

Call for Support to Local Manufacturers 

Also speaking at the event, the founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries, Dr. Stella Okoli encouraged government to do more in helping local manufacturers, “Government has a lot to do in supporting local manufacturers.

“It is a fact that the prosperity of the nation resides with local production. This is how the dwindling economy can be successfully revived. As a company, we are playing our part and we shall continue to do so.

“From day one, we have determined not to let our country down, we are here to do the right thing in the pharmaceutical industry, producing high quality drugs. And we are advancing to the next level, by pioneering API manufacturing in Africa,” she harped.

Emzor Manufacturing Campus Treasure Trove

Emzor is certainly not resting on its oars to churn out quality but affordable drugs for society. At the moment, the company’s fourth factory named ‘Emzor Manufacturing Campus’, seated on a 60-hectare site in an industrial zone on Lagos -Ibadan/Abeokuta Benin interchange in Shagamu, Ogun State is a treasure trove of life saving utilities.

From housing an Oral Solid Dosage (OSD) Plant to Cephalosporin Plant, Intravenous Fluids (IVF) Plant, Penicillin Plant, Gas Plant and other support utilities, the factory at present, produces close to 20billions tablets annually.

With this trailblazing innovation, Emzor has taken the lead to ensure access in the global fight against malaria.

Quote

Emzor’s API Project is a trailblazer in Africa as well as a new dawn in the development of pharmaceutical industry in the content. It is a great leap in the sector and the first of its kind in the sub Saharan Africa. It will ensure production of high quality products and its affordability in Africa. The API Project will indeed make a great impact and will resoundingly facilitate development of standards in the industry.

SOURCE: Culled from ThisDayLive

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