The new $8.7m (€6m) facility – based in Njiro, a suburb of the Northern Tanzania city Arusha – now has all production machinery and processing lines installed and is on track to be fully operational on December 1.
TPI established the factory under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. Under the covenant, companies in developing countries, like Tanzania, to produce life-prolonging drugs that are more affordable.
Currently, a one-month dose of an antiretroviral drug (ARV) costs around $18. TPI claims that, when its new plant is fully operational, it will be able to sell a month’s supply of ARV for around $12.
CEO Ramadhan Madabida told East African Businessweek that: “Our target is to ensure that Tanzania and East African countries are self-sufficient in the supply of the ARVs and other essential drugs in the region.”
New age dawning
The plant, which will create 140 manufacturing and production jobs, will make Tanzania, which has a population of 35 million and a HIV/Aids strike rate of 7.8 per cent, one of only a few developing countries capable of producing its own life-prolonging tablets.
This was stressed by Madabida, who added that TPI also intends to supply the rest of the East African community (EAC) market.
The announcement follows Indian company Ranbanxy’s decision to both manufacture and supply ARVs in South Africa, as well as in its home country India.
However, unsatisfied with simply reducing the costs in the region, some experts are pushing the government to produce enough medication for the 130 million local sufferers.
EAC Principal Health officer Stanley Sonoiya, said: "Governments should support the private sector with either loans or grants so that the sector grows rapidly and meet people's demand in the region.”