Kenya Pharmaceutical Industry Profile

According to statistics, Kenya spends over 8% of its GDP on health. The per capita spending per person on health is approximately 15 USD. Approximately 50% of this amount is derived from budgetary supplements and the rest of it from personal spending.  Government contributions are derived from general taxation, social health insurance, private prepaid health plans, and nonprofit institution’s expenditure.

Structure of the Kenyan Pharmaceutical Market

The health care system is organized and implemented through a network of facilities to form a pyramidal system. This system starts from dispensaries, at the bottom, health centers, sub-district hospitals, district hospitals, provincial hospitals, national hospitals and referral hospitals at the top.

Double Side Labeler Machine
Double Side Labeler Machine

The pharmaceutical sector in Kenya has three main segments which are the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. These three branches play a major role in the support of the Kenyan health system.

Automatic Self Adhesive Vertical Vial Sticker Labeling Machine
Automatic Self Adhesive Vertical Vial Sticker Labeling Machine

In the Common markets for eastern and southern Africa (COMESA) region, Kenya is the biggest producer of pharmaceutical products with a market share of over 50%. It also has the highest number of manufacturers which are over 40 companies. These include multinational corporations, subsidiaries, business joint ventures as well as startup manufacturers. The industries have employed over 3000 employees in direct production and packing of medicines.

Pickle Jar Labeling Machine

Some of the activities conducted by these manufacturers include;

  • Compounding and packaging of medicines
  • Repacking of medicines
  • Processing of bulk drugs into desired doses
  • Sealing and packing as well as batching formulations.

Distributors; the main distributor is the Kenya medical supply agency which distributes to health facilities across the country, while other private distributors supply medicines to private health centers.

Vial Labeling Machine

Retailers of pharmaceutical products are mainly pharmacies and chemists, including shops selling over the counter medications.

Challenges in the Kenyan Pharmaceutical Market

In the pharmaceutical manufacturing arena in Kenya and the greater East African region, the majority of the active ingredients have to be sourced from other countries such as Asian countries and China. This creates a huge initial cost of production that poses a great challenge.

Glass Bottle (9)Vial Labeling Machine

Automation is another challenge affecting the efficient production of medicines in the country. It has been noted that to offset the high cost of labor, efficient equipment such as liquid filling machines, sealing machines, tablet sections, and many other types of equipment have to be introduced in order to meet the high demand.

Opportunities for growth of Kenya Pharmaceutical Industry

There are various opportunities for growth in the Kenyan pharmaceutical sector. These include

  • Manufacturing and packaging of disposable gloves, latex gloves
  • Investment in pharmaceutical machinery for the processing of traditional medicines that have various active ingredients available in Kenya.
  • Investment in multipurpose chemical plants used in bulk, making of intermediate inputs important for making products such as paracetamol and aspirins.
  • Pharmaceutical Equipment for use in processing locally available sugar, salt, and ethanol to pharmaceutical grade.
  • Manufacturing of various medical supplies such as syringes, catheters, gauzes, and other medical equipment.

Future Prospects of Kenya Pharmaceutical Industry

With the expected growth of this industry, industry players are working towards the export of high-quality products and increased production quantity to meet the high regional demand for medicines. Support of various medical research initiatives and strict adherence to quality level and to the industry code of practice will help in establishing a good supply chain.