, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7 – A leading Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced on Thursday price reduction of up to 40 percent for its two commonly used antibiotics in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Managing Director John Musunga said the price of all oral formulations of Augmentin would reduce by 40 percent while that of Zinnat would have a 30 percent fall.
“Every time we introduce a new product, the pricing considerations remain the same. We will no longer charge European or American prices for medicines that are coming into Africa or in the Least Developed Countries,” Mr Musunga said.
He said the drop in prices was effective this month and was as a result of pressure from medical practitioners and the government. The two drugs represent a 50 percent turnover for the firm.
Mr Musunga said that this initiative was to help in the fight against bacterial infections in the region.
Deputy Chief Pharmacist at the Ministry of Health Dr Fred Siyoi said this would improve accessibility of the drugs to a majority of the patients who required them.
“We want this to go down to the consumer. So I want to urge people in the distribution chain to also reduce their prices commensurate with what GSK has done,” Dr Siyoi said.
The first price reduction by GSK was in April last year when the company cut the cost of its patented medicines in the region by more than half. The copyrighted drugs were reduced by between 60 and 80 percent.
“We want to ensure a reduction in infectious diseases because they are the biggest burden in the least developed nations,” Mr Musunga said.
Patented medicines are those that GSK has exclusive global rights to manufacture and sell for atleast15 years before another company starts to formulate similar products.
“Last years price reductions have already improved accessibility with almost twice the number of patients accessing these drugs,” the GSK MD said.
Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) Dr Karanja Ngugi said this move should see a reduction in the prices of generic medicines as well.
“The government should start looking at the issue of pricing of medicines in this country. I know we are a free economy but when we are talking about health, the question of liberalisation has to be looked at very carefully,” Dr Ngugi said.
“Market authorisation needs to be used so that if somebody is marketing at prices that are not sustainable, we need to begin to tell them to review,” the PSK Chair added.