How pharma industry can weather SA economic crisis

How pharma industry can weather SA economic crisis

While SA’s economy is facing possible junk status, the good news is that the pharmaceutical industry is in a position to help weather the impending storm.

A lack of economic growth has led to South Africa facing the risk of its sovereign credit rating being downgraded to junk status. This coupled, with rising debt levels, increasing unemployment, a weakening exchange rate and higher-than-expected inflation levels mean hard times lie ahead for the majority of South Africans. That also goes for those in need of medical care and medication.

The leading pharmaceutical companies are in a position to play a key role in supporting the local economy and helping it grow, says Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla Medpro, the third largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in SA. He stressed the importance of continued foreign investment and job creation, and mentioned that Cipla invested R4.5 billion in SA just in 2013, as well as a total of R400m into the SA manufacturing facility of the company.

For various reasons, the pharmaceutical industry is more immune to recession than many other companies, and can help shield related industries and suppliers from the economic fallout of the economic downturn.

Miller has been invited as one of the Top 60 CEOs in the country for the 2016 Pharma Outlook meeting to discuss and suggest solutions with regards to infrastructure, healthcare, and the SA economic landscape.

He stressed that while contribution to economic growth remained a fundamental concern, access to affordable healthcare remained a primary responsibility for pharmaceutical organisations. The weakening exchange rate also encouraged the local manufacturing of medication, rather than the importation of it. He requested that attention be given to the expediting of the Medicines Control Council’s approval process for medication.

Widespread use of generic medication, which typically comes down in price over time, will also provide greater access to quality medicines at affordable prices in these difficult economic times, he added.

All big companies, he says, have to make a contribution in helping the government to achieve its economic milestones for 2016.

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