April 19, 2006

In recent months, Indian drugmaker Ranbaxy has registered 10 new drugs with regulatory authorities in the East African region. More than half of the medicines -- largely HIV/AIDS medications, antibiotics and antifungals -- have been directed toward the Kenyan market, one of the most lucrative markets in the area.

"The trend towards greater funding by both governments and international donors to commit more resources to the treatment of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis means that the market for medicines for these diseases is getting bigger by the day," said Ephantus Njagi, director of the Kenya-based consulting firm Health Development Associates. "Branded drugs are perceived to be expensive, and generics are making major inroads."

In Tanzania and Uganda, Ranbaxy recently registered its generic version of the antibiotic oflaxacin, while in Ethiopia and Burundi, Ranbaxy has registered a group of generic antiretroviral (ARV) HIV/AIDS drugs.

Nearly 200,000 residents of East Africa are currently taking ARVs, the company reported. But in other areas, noted the company, the amount of people requiring ARVs is similarly large -- in Kenya, for example, where the Ministry of Health has pledged to medicate 140,000 HIV-positive people with ARVs by the end of the year, an estimated 70,000 currently have access to the drugs.