Nile Medicine Company to start producing badly needed medication locally
CAIRO: For the first time in the history of the country, antibiotics for liver diseases will be produced locally for 50 percent less than the price of their imported counterparts.
Liver diseases have plagued the population for a long time. Other than liver cancer and liver transplants, the most prevalent liver condition is hepatitis. In fact, Egypt currently possesses the highest reported hepatitis C (HCV) prevalence rate in the world, with more than 12 to 15 percent of the general population living with HCV, Dr. Gamal Esmat, professor of hepatology at Cairo University and president-elect of the International Association for the study of liver disease, previously said to The Daily Star Egypt.
That’s saying nothing of hepatitis B, which has infected close to two million Egyptians to date.
Furthermore, hepatitis, which causes chronic liver diseases, is incurable, thus those infected must live on medication and treatment indefinitely, which is where the real problem comes in. Because the most effective medication for liver diseases are not subsidized or produced locally, the cost of the most up-to-date medication is much more than the average citizen can afford.
For example, pegylated interferon, the most effective drug against HCV available, costs LE 1,400 an injection and is meant to be taken once a week, while interferon, the less effective drug, costs approximately LE 80 and is taken every two days.
The high cost of such medication has left millions of Egyptians living with liver disease without treatment, slowly dying due to complications and infections that arise from not receiving treatment.
However, according to Dr. Mohamed Salah Fayed, president of Nile Medicine Company, this is all about to change. Fayed confirms that antibiotics for liver diseases will be produced in Egypt in the factories of Nile Medicine.
According to Fayed, the move will increase the country’s production capacity of antibiotics from the current half a million bottles to 2.5 million bottles. Furthermore, in order to slash the cost of the medication by half, the company will sell it for production cost, with a very low margin of profit, stated Fayed.
He also stated that the company will supply the Ministry of Health with the antibiotics it needs at a lower cost. One example is hepatitis medication, which will be sold to the government for LE 16, with production costs of LE 26.
According to Fayed, the production of the antibiotics (around 200 antibiotics will be produced) is part of a government and private sector plan set in place at the beginning of 2006 to last until 2007 to transform and better medical conditions in Egypt.
For example, expired medication, which accounts for a little less than one percent of total sales in the industry, will be taken off the shelves to avoid any more harmful complications to the patients using them.
Working with the Holding Company for Medicines, Nile Medicines will assist other private sector companies in getting rid of expired products without suffering extensive profit loss.
In addition, a part of the plan, awaiting approval by the Ministry of Health and other concerned government bodies, includes the production of insulin, used by diabetics, for a total investment of LE 10 million.
In related news, Fayed also announced that the company has just obtained the license to produce Taminil, a treatment for bird flu, from an international German company, and will begin producing this treatment and supplying it to the Ministry of Health starting next month. Fayed also stated that the production of Taminil will come to a total cost of LE 30 million.