PHARMACEUTICAL and personal care products maker, Datlabs Limited, has invested $1 million in capital expenditure meant to bolster production capacity and meet market supply requirements.
The Bulawayo-based factory is also seeking about $2 million to rescuscitate its large volume parenteral (LVP) manufacturing unit, which is lying idle due to foreign currency challenges. The unit is critical in the production of intravenous fluids used to treat diseases such as cholera.
“We have got an LVP manufacturing plant that was state of the art but is lying idle at the moment. We need to rescuscitate it if we can assist each other with foreign currency. We know that it (forex) is scarce but in such situations it would be easy if we are manufacturing here and supplying these to hospitals,” Datlabs chief executive officer, Mr Todd Moyo, said.
“At the moment we are importing (intravenous drugs) but it is something that we can actually do here as local companies. Unfortunately we need to invest in machinery and that needs foreign currency to go ahead.”
Taking aside the LVP plant which is not working, the Datlabs executive said the giant factory was operating at around 80 percent.
“We are importing machinery from India and I am glad the machinery will be hitting maybe Durban sometime this weekend. So in the next few weeks we are looking at getting some new tableting machinery in our factory, which will increase our capacity and also improve our compliance standards,” said Mr Moyo.
“We have actually spent quite a lot of money. We have already spent about $500 000 for a heat ventilating and conditioning system. We have put in chillers and actually put in all the controlling units…and these other machinery like compression machines, the fluid-bed drier and some mixers.
“We are spending another $500 000 as well before we get into resuscitating the LVP factory, which on its own will need about another $2 million.”
Mr Moyo said the pharmaceutical sector presents a huge opportunity for the economy if given adequate support. He hoped the new Cabinet would steer industrial growth of the sector.
Mr Moyo said he had earlier worked with Dr Obadiah Moyo, the new Minister of Health and Child Care, and hoped his experience in various capacities in the sector would help transform the health system in the country.
“He is a man who listens and a man of action. It is our hope he will listen to our needs and we will also listen to his. We hope to get some liaison together and see how we can complement each other,” said Mr Moyo.
Apart from forex challenges, the local pharmaceutical industry has recently bemoaned the continued reliance on imports of critical care products by Government institutions saying this was contributing to closure of local companies whose biggest market was public institutions.