The inaugural Pharmaconnect Africa Conference and Expo were held on the 29th and 30th of March 2017. In 2017, there was official representation from regulators (Ghana FDA, East Africa Community (EAC) and Medicines Control Council (MCC)), Department of Health (South Africa), local manufacturers (NAPM and SAGMA), innovator companies and associations under the auspices of Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA), various South African universities, UN agencies (UNIDO and WHO), and SADC-aligned business forum (SABF). The attendance averaged 110 participants per day and participants were drawn from the whole value chain of pharmaceutical providers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the concept of essential medicines in 1977. Essential medicines are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a price, the individual and the community can afford. They are selected with due regard to public health relevance, evidence of efficacy and safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness. In Africa, many countries have adopted the Essential Medicines List concept and embraced the principles of rational use of medicines. However, there are critical challenges which this 2-day conference and exposition will seek to address. The areas of focus of PharmaConnect Africa (PharmaConnect-A 2017) will be local pharmaceutical manufacturing, offshore procurement and distribution, and the over-arching role of medicine regulation along the whole value chain. Discussions will cut across both human and animal health care in Africa.
PharmaConnect-A 2017 will bring together all strategic stakeholders from key regulatory authorities, local and transnational companies, academics and NGOs for discussions around their roles and responsibilities in affordable and efficient health care delivery in Africa with a specific focus on Essential Medicines.
Some regulators have started to give priority reviews to essential medicines in registration. However, this is not matched with priority approval of clinical trials. How can the priority approval system be implemented and what resources are needed to improve efficiencies in the overall handling and approval of clinical trials?
Harmonization has long been talked about, but little progress seems to have been made in Africa because of factors including variable geometry, national sovereignty, and language. Increasingly there is a focus on convergence as an easier first step towards regional harmonization. What are the quick wins in this area? Should consideration be given to harmonization or convergence which goes beyond medicine regulation to clinical guidelines? What opportunities are available to industry for collaborations in harmonization and convergence?
There is a very little emphasis in the current pharmacy curricula in pharmaceutical logistics, supply chain management and the attendant regulatory framework and quality management systems. Can short training programmes be developed and how can they be quickly accredited? What are the opportunities for collaboration between universities and private training institutions in the education and training arena to build capacity on the Africa continent?
There has been de-industrialization in many African countries with global pharmaceutical companies retreating to global centres of excellence along with the entry of Indian – manufactured products. This may result in severe supply shocks and stock-outs. How can local and global companies play a role in ensuring the security of supply of essential medicines?