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Ugandan firm suspends making of AIDS drugs

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th June 2009 03:00 AM

QUALITY Chemical Industries has suspended the manufacturing of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) because the company has no order from the Ministry of Health, the company’s officials have said.

By Madinah Tebajjukira

QUALITY Chemical Industries has suspended the manufacturing of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) because the company has no order from the Ministry of Health, the company’s officials have said.

This was revealed during a tour of the plant by the parliamentary budget committee on Thursday.

“We cannot manufacture ARVs now because we have no orders from the ministry. As soon as we get the orders, we shall be back in production. We are now manufacturing malaria drugs,” said George Baguma, the marketing director.

The director of finance, Frederick Mutebi, said it takes the company four months to manufacture drugs after an order has been made. He said the company spends about two months to procure the materials used in the manufacturing.

“If you gave me an order today, the earliest I can deliver will be in October, because of the long process involved,” Mutebi said.

The Luzira-based company, delivered its first batch of ARVs worth $4.8m to the Ministry of Health in February.

However, Mutebi attributed the delay to order on lack of funds. He is optimistic that once the ministry’s budget is approved by Parliament, the ministry will make an order.

Health ministers James Kakooza, Dr. Richard Nduhura and the director for clinical and community health, Kenya Mugisha, yesterday said they did not know anything about the matter.

They referred Saturday Vision to the permanent secretary, Mary Nanono, who was not available.

The AIDS Control Programme manager, Dr. Zainabu Akol, explained that the ministry had not placed an order with Quality Chemicals because it still had enough stock for a whole year.

Akol added, the ministry was $9m from Gobal Fund to purchase ARVs.
“We don’t rely on Quality Chemicals alone, we get other donations from the Clinton Foundation, and besides the long procurement procedures which must be followed, we don’t want these drugs to expire in our stores so we order what can be consumed,” Akol said.

The committee, chaired by Rose Akol (NRM) were touring the factory to acquaint themselves with its activities and to establish whether the company had asked for supplementary funds of sh16b from the Government. Last financial year, Quality Chemicals was given sh60b.

The company manager will be invited to Parliament to discuss the funds given to them by government.

Mutebi also told the legislators that the company had manufactured Lumertem, an anti-malaria drug. “This is the first Lumertem to be manufactured locally. It is equivalent to Coartem,” said Samuel Opio the production pharmacist.

Batches of Lumertem will be taken to the NDA for verification in three week’s time.

Ugandan firm suspends making of AIDS drugs

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