The National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (NAPM) revealed its new branding and name change to Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Southern Africa (GBM) on 11 May. The association – which was launched 40 years ago – continues to keep pace with global industry developments.
According to Cipla’s Herman Grobler, chairman of GBM (newly branded NAPM), the pharmaceutical industry has developed and changed substantially over the years. ‘While manufacturing in South Africa hasn’t kept pace, and the NAPM has continued to change its focus from manufacturing and supply to also addressing the needs of patients and their access to affordable and quality medicines,’ he comments.
Part of a global movement
Over the past two years, various international pharma industry associations representing the interests of manufacturers of generic medicines have changed their names and strategic focus to incorporate biosimilars. The NAPM is now following suite with its rebranding.
Revealing the GBM’s new logo at a conference which took place at Blue Valley Hills Estate in Midrand, Gauteng, Grobler says the logo is made up of various elements. ‘The outstretched arms welcome like-minded pharmaceutical companies aligned with association’s ethos. The leaves illustrate the GBM’s aim for safe, affordable and efficacious medicines for patients in South and southern Africa.’
Growth in generic ultilisation
In South Africa, generic medicines have allowed our country to have the most robust and accessible HIV programme in the world.
According to Madeleine Bester from Mediscor, there has been good increase in generic utilisation in South Africa over the past nine years. ‘The industry is making great advances as a result of increased availability. The treatment of HIV/Aids remains a success area in the use of generic meds with 73.9 percent of medicines used in 2015 for HIV/Aids treatment being generic,’ says Bester.
She congratulated the NAPM on its rebranding stressing the importance of biosimilars in driving down costs and increasing patient access to necessary treatment. ‘Biological entities are very expensive,’ comments Bester, ‘the average cost per patient is around R70 000 per year, sparking a definite demand for biosimilars to curb the exorbitant costs associated with treating illnesses like cancers.’
Dr Roshini Moodley Naidoo from Discovery Health also congratulated the NAPM on the move to realign its focus as the GBM. ‘Biosimilars are a key part of the journey in driving access to affordable care,’ she comments. ‘As a result, Discovery is eagerly awaiting the registration of more biosimilars from the MCC.’
‘One in four people in South Africa consumes ARVs – the NAPM has played a key role in driving this access to much needed generic medicines,’ says Gavin Steel, chief director at National Department of Health. He believes the GBM is going to take health care in South Africa into the next era.
Steel also shared some of the successes achieved with generic medicines over the past 15 years. ‘We’ve seen a 71 to 88 percent price reduction in hypertension medicine from 2003 to now. This is thanks to the significant access initiatives driven by the NAPM,’ he comments. ‘South Africa now has the lowest priced ARVs in the world as a result of voluntary licensing and the use of generic medicines.’
An exciting new chapter
The GBM is the successor to the NAPM and represents the interests of generic and biosimilar medicine manufacturers and marketers in South Africa. The association’s mission is to champion greater access to medicine by the South African population.
Vivian Frittelli, CEO of GBM (newly rebranded NAPM) says that an exciting development in South Africa is Cipla’s establishment of a biosimilar plant at the Dube Trade Port near Durban. On completion, this plant will be able to provide more affordable life-saving treatments where biological drugs are required.
‘The Medicines Control Council has approved a registration guideline for biosimilar medicines in South Africa and are based on international best practices,’ says Frittelli. ‘The cost-efficiencies, which generic and biosimilar medicines provide, are going to assume greater importance for state and private health funders as populations age and the prevalence of cancers and other non-communicable diseases increases.’
The GBM will use its new corporate identity to not only help develop and commercialise biomedical technologies in South Africa, but also to provide a greater understanding of these kinds of emerging health care technologies. ‘It represents an exciting new chapter in the growth and development of our association,’ Frittelli concludes.