By Taddeo Bwambale and Vivian Agaba
Quality Chemicals, a Ugandanbased pharmaceutical company, will next month start producing a new anti-retroviral(ARV) drug, Tenofovir.
A monthly dose of the drug will cost $20 (about sh44,000) compared to $600 (about sh1.4m) for the same drug in Europe.
One pill a day is recommended as opposed to two pills used in the first line treatment, according to Samuel Opio, Quality Chemical’s pharmacist. Tenofovir belongs to a class of drugs that help slow the spread of HIV.
While most advanced countries have switched to Tenofovir as first line treatment for HIV, many poor countries have not embraced it because it is very expensive.
Government health units are expected to start receiving Tenofovir next year, in a move that will partly improve compliance to ARVs.
Quality Chemicals also produces anti-malarial drugs. According to National Medical Stores general manager, Moses Kamabare, the local procurement of antimalarials and ARVs locally has significantly reduced on cases of stock-outs.
He explained that most of the drugs are imported from India and China, which require not less than two months to arrive in the country.
Kamabare said over the last six months, about 50,000 more people have been started on ARVs due to the consistency in drug supply by Quality Chemicals.
The cost of buying ARVs from the plant has also slightly reduced from $2.4 per dose when it started production to $1.9.
Besides improvements in procurement and supply, the availability of a local supplier has reduced the burden on storage at NMS.