South Africans have been in lockdown for almost seven weeks now to help #flattenthecurve in the fight against COVID-19. Our country’s swift response to the pandemic has been praised even by the likes of The World Health Organisation. We are especially thankful for the tremendous efforts by our healthcare professionals as you are at the coalface of fighting this pandemic. We salute your bravery during this unprecedented time.
The company remains committed to its mission of providing affordable medicines to all South Africans, manufactured in line with the highest possible standards of quality. We have taken every possible measure to ensure the health and safety of our employees, such as work from home for eligible staff, social distancing requirements, temperature scanning as staff enter our facilities, emergency drills in the event of infection, protective gear and private transport for all staff at our manufacturing and distribution facilities. We are also carefully managing our global supply chain to ensure that there is sufficient stock of critical medicines.
Our Africa based manufacturing facilities – Cipla Medpro Manufacturing (CMM) in Durban, Mirren in Johannesburg and CiplaQCIL in Kampala, Uganda – and our distribution facility in Cape Town have all been operating at full capacity during lockdown. Despite the unusual circumstances, CMM hit a new production record of 131 million tablets in March 2020. Almost 70% of our portfolio, including essential medicines needed for the symptomatic treatment of
COVID-19 and antiretrovirals, are manufactured at our three local manufacturing facilities.
Since Cipla acquired Mirren in 2018, it has invested more than R70 million to increase capacity, improve safety and drive efficiencies at the facility. The upgraded Mirren facility can meet the high demand of critical medicine needs and also help to grow the beleaguered economy thanks to the multiplier effect of manufacturing. With the recent Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) approval obtained from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s (SAHPRA), this facility can run at full throttle to ensure continuous supply of over-the-counter medication, particularly ahead of winter.
As part our “Africa for Africa” ambition, Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited (CiplaQCIL) in Uganda recently dispatched 300 000 packs of antiretrovirals to South Africa. This medication was flown business class on Kenya Airways passenger planes, which were converted to carry cargo, to ensure that people have access to essential medicine.
Cipla continues to work closely with SAHPRA for the registration of essential medicines. Recently, SAPHRA approved Cipla’s measles vaccine. This vaccine has been pre-qualified by the WHO and is available as a single or 10-dose vial. Previously, only the 10-dose vial was available, often resulting in healthcare practitioners waiting until 10 people required vaccinations. The single dose vaccine will help to reduce potential wastage of the medication.
SAHPRA also recently approved Cipla cotrizid, an innovative fixed-dose combination medicine, which combines sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, isoniazid and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) into a single tablet. The WHO recommends its use for up to three years for people living with HIV (PLHIV) who are living in high-risk TB communities. This unique first-to-market product in South Africa helps to reduce the pill burden for PLHIV, which in turn improves adherence to medication and subsequently improves treatment outcomes, namely reduced TB prevalence and an HIV undetectable viral load.
Globally, Cipla is working closely with the Serum Institute of India who are developing a preventative vaccine against COVID-19. In the event that clinical trials are successful, Cipla
will ensure that we bring this medicine to our people as quickly as possible. Cipla’s medical team is closely monitoring all clinical studies, including the SOLIDARITY Trial conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to find an evidence-based treatment for COVID-19. We are also constantly engaging with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the Department of Health, SAHPRA and epidemiologists, to ensure that we can assist with supplying the appropriate medicines to treat this pandemic. We are hopeful that through cross-collaborative efforts and ingenuity South Africa will be able to implement an effective solution against COVID-19.
We are aware that healthcare practices have been under tremendous pressure, so Cipla has partnered with BrandMed and Momentum Health Solutions to launch the telehealth solution KardioMD. This is a highly secure, world-leading HPCSA and POPIA-compliant platform that empowers patients and doctors to engage remotely and consult as usual in these unusual times.
Our commercial team has hosted numerous webinars across various therapeutic categories to ensure a continuous flow of knowledge with healthcare professionals.
In compliance with the lockdown regulations, Cipla’s sales team has been working from home and engaging digitally with their healthcare professionals. Our representatives will be returning to the field within the next few days and will also adhere to strict safety measures to ensure everyone’s safety.
The Cipla Foundation has partnered with the Western Cape Government Health Department, to support the government’s objective of increased testing to help contain the outbreak effectively. We have rolled out four screening and testing units in the Overberg. Our Sha’p Left chronic medicine pick-up points for stable patients are helping to decongest state facilities and ensures that people adhere to their medication to prevent any additional pressure on the healthcare system. Our Ajuga early childhood development centres are currently closed but we are supporting staff and their families with food parcels.
Cipla remains committed to be a partner you can depend on in these difficult times. Through standing united (albeit apart), I’m confident that we will overcome this pandemic and deliver on our common ethos of “caring for life”.
Executive Vice President
Chief Executive Officer SA & MD SAGA