Chief Executive of the Ernest Chemist, Ernest Bediako Sampong, sees more growth in Ghana’s pharmaceutical industry, banking his predictions the rise of people he calls “smart guys”.
Research giants, BMI Research Company, predicted in a publication recently that Ghana’s pharmaceutical industry is set to grow in excess of 8,7% by the second quarter of 2017 from GH¢1.2 billion in 2016 to GH¢1.3 billion this year.
Speaking on Hard Truth, a current affairs programme on the Joy News channel on MultiTV, Mr Ernest Sampong said the robust performance of the sector, despite challenges to local producers such as expensive credit, has been the result of enlightened entrepreneurs in the sector.
“There are smart guys going into the business these days. They are taking advantage of the scarcity [of some drugs] and looking at certain areas where they think they could make more money,” he told show host Akosua Konadu.
He said the days when only a handful of skilled people operate in the industry are gone, and has predicted that Ghana's pharmaceutical industry would outperform forecast targets.
“There are more investments in the industry now...more Ghanaians have come into it. People have opened more retail outlets, more wholesale outlets, more manufacturing plants are being set up,” he said.
He also lauded the industry regulator, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for bringing sanity to the pharmaceutical industry.
“I can tell you that within the sub-region, our industry is one of the most regulated, and at the same time people prefer our products,” Mr. Sampong said.
Govt must set direction
Local drug maker. like Mr Sampong’s Ernest Chemist cater for only 30% of market demand, the rest is imported from other countries.
Explaining why this is so, the experienced entrepreneur and Pharmacist said that importing drugs requires less capital and skill than manufacturing – which has to, for instance, go through a rigourous process of scientific testing and approval.
He admits, however, that manufacturing should be the way forward.
“With manufacturing, you create employment, with importation you give employment away to the [exporting] countries...in the long run if we are able to go into exports we will receive more foreign exchange. So it is up to the government to define where it wants to go,” he said.
Ernest Chemist , which is the largest pharmaceutical retailing and distribution firm in Ghana, currently manufactures about 40% of drugs it sells but there are firm plans to lower importation of drugs from the current 60% and increase manufacturing.
“It is very expensive buying some of these manufacturing equipments. For example, to build a GMP factory, you need not less than $25 million, whiles with trading, you just need about $20,000,” he said.
He revealed also that it is easier to access credit when a business is importing than when it is manufacturing.
There is more from the discussion on Hard Truth in the video below.