Pharma conference debuts in Africa

Oct.1.2011.The Conference Company. Cape Town is set to host the 14th annual International Generic Pharmaceutical Alliance (IGPA) Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 1-3 November 2011.

Cape Town will become the first city on the African continent to host this conference. The previous event took place in Mumbai, India.

This year’s theme is Breaking Barriers to Medicine Access. This is a real everyday concern for many people – especially in Africa where access to life-saving medicines such as antiretrovirals is still limited in parts.

A top event for the global generics industry, previous editions of the conference have brought together delegates from over 32 countries and this is expected to swell at this year’s event.

Delegates are drawn from CEOs of major generic medicine manufacturers; academics; scientific, legal and regulatory experts; policy makers; and health ministries.

These representatives of local, regional and international industries are able to network, gain knowledge directly from the world’s top generic practitioners, learn about the latest research, and set up prospective new business opportunities.

Key speakers at this year’s conference include Dr Lembit Rago of the World Health Organisation; Selwyn Kahanovitz, CEO of Lithahealthcare; representatives of the US-based Food and Drug Administration; and Dr Skhumbuzo Ngozwana, chairman of South Africa’s National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.

“For South Africa, crossing this new frontier and breaking barriers to bring the conference to Africa is a real honour,” said Ngozwana in a statement on the event website.

Affordable medicine for all

Founded in 1997, the IGPA aims to ensure that all consumers have access to affordable, quality medicines. It consists of the generic pharmaceutical associations of Europe, Canada, the US, India, Japan and South Africa, which was accepted as a full IGPA member at the previous conference in India.

The generic associations of Brazil, Jordan, and Taiwan are observer members. Observer status is being considered for Malaysia and Mexico. This is a privilege granted to some non-members to allow them to participate in IGPA activities.

South Africa’s NAPM was founded in 1977 and is one of the oldest pharmaceutical manufacturing associations. It focuses on the manufacture and supply of generic medicines while taking into account the environmental needs of the country and its people.

The NAPM also assists the government with generic manufacturing policies.

Generic medicines are those that contain the same active ingredients as their original brand-name equivalents. They provide the same quality, safety, and efficiency as the original version as their manufacturers perform in-depth analysis before being allowed to market the product.

Each generic medicine is tested for the same bioequivalence as the original. This means that the generic must release the same amount of active ingredient over the same time frame as the original. Once a generic is approved, it is closely observed by manufacturers and health authorities.

As belts tighten in many families across the world, doctors are increasingly prescribing generics as they are cheaper than the branded formulation by up to 90%, and therefore offer a cost effective alternate to expensive medicines.

If this strategy could be implemented across the globe, it could free up millions to bolster current healthcare systems and services, or to provide more expensive treatments for patients, especially for chronic and life-threatening illnesses such as HIV/Aids, malaria or diabetes.

The IGPA encourages doctors to prescribe generics and pharmacies to dispense generics, and regular consumers are also encouraged to enquire about generic medicines.

By Christel Jordaan


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