The Sunday News
Njabulo Bhebe, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S largest pharmaceuticals manufacturer, CAPS Pharmaceuticals has reopened one of its two plants in Harare, which was shut down years ago as it forges ahead to improve the availability and access of drugs in the country’s health sector.
CAPS chief executive officer Mr Justice Majaka said the company successfully refurbished and resumed operations of its penicillin plant at the end of last year.
“We managed to reopen the penicillin plant. It resumed production in the last quarter of 2019 and so far, it has had capacity utilisation of 80 percent,” he said.
Mr Majaka said the company failed to meet timelines for the rehabilitation of its penicillin and Intravenous (IV) plant, which were both scheduled to be completed last year at a cost of about US$6 million owing to lack of foreign currency.
“The IV plant work is still in progress. We now expect to have it ready by mid-2020. The major challenge was the access to foreign currency, which resulted in payment delays for imported components,” he said.
The opening of CAPS’ two plants is expected to boost the pharmaceutical sector, which is currently operating at 40 percent capacity utilisation.
Zimbabwe has an acute shortage of critical drugs and medicines. Around 80 percent of available drugs and medicines are imported with the remaining 20 percent locally manufactured.
“The local pharmaceutical manufacturing sector is adversely affected by the lack of funding for the biggest customer Natpharm. Over 80 percent of the consumption of pharmaceuticals is through public health institutions procured through Natpharm.
“Currently donors are the main suppliers for the public sector and they give no preference to local manufacturers. We continue to engage the Government to support the sector by availing funding for public health institutions,” said Mr Majaka.
At its peak, CAPS accounted for 75 percent of the local healthcare products market and was involved in the manufacture, wholesale distribution, and retail of pharmaceutical, consumer and veterinary products. The company once traded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange before delisting on 30 November 2011.
It said then that the de-listing would pave way for restructuring of the business that would see new investors coming in to inject fresh capital. The pharmaceutical concern ended a 42-year presence on the bourse, trading at $0,10c per share and valued at $3,5 million.
In 2013, CAPS ceased operations and its buildings in Southerton, Harare were once auctioned for $1,5 million. However, in 2017, the Government, through the Reserve Bank’s Zimbabwe Asset Management Company took over the majority stake of the country’s largest drug manufacturer after paying off its debts and previous shareholders.