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Cheap imports hurt local pharmacies

PLAYERS in the pharmaceutical industry are bemoaning the unfair competition in the industry amid revelations that they were forced to pay tax on imported pharmaceutical raw materials, while some finished products are imported duty-free.

BY MUSA DUBE

Datlabs chief executive officer Todd Moyo told Standardbusiness last week that local manufacturers were being required to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on raw materials while finished products were being imported duty-free, a situation that made their products uncompetitive.

“As the pharmaceutical players, we are facing challenges of having to compete with foreign products from countries such as India,” he said.

“One can bring in finished product into the country duty-free but when you bring in raw materials to manufacture that product you have to pay the duty. This is an anomaly which has not been addressed for a longtime.”

Moyo called on the government to introduce policies that ensure that the local industry was protected.

He said there was also need to ensure that the playing field was level so that the local products could compete with imported products.

There are nine licensed pharmaceutical companies in Zimbabwe, among them Datlabs, Varichem and Medtech.

Most of them are reportedly operating below capacity, due to unfavourable working environment and liquidity challenges.

Datlabs marketing director Clever Mugadza said although there have been cases of counterfeits on the market the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has been alert, shutting out fake products.

“The MCAZ has put a robust system that tries to keep out counterfeits pharmaceutical products in the country. There have been a few cases reported, but we have been very quick to detect them and take them out of the market,” Mugadza said.

Datlabs is a leading Zimbabwean pharmaceutical and personal care company which produces a variety of products such as cafemol, panado, lanolene milk and solphyllex.

Recently the company produced a new camphor cream brand called CamphaCare that is already on the market and efforts are under way to export it to South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

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