A hopeful new era for medicines in South Africa dawned with the launch this week of the South African Generic Medicines Association (Sagma).
Sagma's self-defined mandate is to wrestle with and find solutions for the challenges that inhibit local manufacture of generics. Amongst these are:
Unlevel playing fields as a result of high taxes on ingredients coming into the country for use in local manufacture, compared to low or no taxes on the import of certain complete drugs.
A shortage of skills and the capital necessary to upgrade existing manufacturing facilities to meet internationally-defined manufacturing standards.
The relatively small size of the local market, which means local manufacturers carry the cost burden of being unable to leverage economies of scale.