Johannesburg: Implementation of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) system in South Africa will benefit the Indian pharmaceutical industry by opening up opportunities for collaboration with South African companies, delegates at a seminar here have said.
Hosted by the Indian High Commission in South Africa, panelists at the seminar discussed a range of topics related to the issue.
"The idea was to create a sensitisation about our engagement in this very important sector," Indian High Commissioner to South Africa Virendra Gupta told said afterward.
"Our exports of pharmaceuticals to South Africa are increasing very rapidly and today South Africa is our fourth-largest market in the world, behind America, the UK and Russia," he said.
"I'm also happy to see a qualitative shift that is taking place, which is that Indian companies have reached a certain threshold in volume terms and are now beginning to expand their linkages by creating joint ventures, establishing manufacturing facilities and engaging in transfer of technologies," the High Commissioner said.
"We are very pleased about this and are supporting all these initiatives," he added.
Commenting on the difficult situation that Indian pharmaceutical companies initially found themselves in trying to gain acceptance for their generic products in South Africa, Gupta said this was no longer an issue.
"India is well-established as a source of very high quality, because this is one area where we don't make any compromise and government agencies keep on underscoring that point with Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers," he said.
Gupta said that pricing was also very competitive, although he felt that there was still a lot of scope for reducing the cost of dispensing medicines and filling
prescriptions in South Africa.
"With the possibility of NHI coming into South Africa, I see distinct possibilities of greater coverage for generics, of which India is one of the leaders in the sector. I think that we are going to see even greater engagement between India and South Africa in coming years," he said.
Jerry Vilakazi, the chairman of the Netcare private hospital group, concurred with Gupta's positive views on greater collaboration.
"Private healthcare also wants to play in the NHI space and generics will allow for that," Vilakazi said.
He urged Indian suppliers to build relations in South Africa. "Look at how local companies have built brand loyalty by engaging with doctors," he said.
First Published: Monday, December 19, 2011, 10:30