January 11—An over concentration of licensed pharmacies in central Kampala has prompted the National Drugs Authority (NDA) to announce a moratorium on new applicants. There are frequent situations in Uganda’s capital where drugs stores operate side by side on the same street in a business that offers high mark-ups for some products.
NDA executive director, Donna Kusemerewa told a news conference in midweek, that effective from 2019 approvals for new pharmacies will only be given for upcountry locations. She asked those involved with the business of dispensing drugs to the public to sort themselves out.
Any outlet that has not been licensed in January 2018 will be asked to close and enforcement action will follow. No new drug shops will be licensed in Kampala and other municipalities since there are pharmacies already sufficiently serving the population.
Existing drug outlets are being encouraged to move to high density under served areas in Kampala district like Kasokoso, Makerere Kivulu among others and other under served areas country wide. The objective of developing the new guidelines is to address the equitable distribution of drug outlets in Kampala in order to improve access to pharmaceutical products in the City.
According to an NDA statement, the current population estimates for Kampala is 1,516,210 as per the population census of 2014 against the total licensed pharmacies in 2017 of 478 which translates to a pharmacist to population ratio of 1; 3,172. The computed ratio implies that Kampala is well served even in comparison to countries for example the United Kingdom which recommends a ratio of pharmacist to population of 1;5000.
The latest directive follows another one early last year that stopped pharmacies from running both retail and wholesale operations. Effective from January 2017, companies and individuals were advised to choose between operating either a retail or wholesale pharmacy business.
The local pharmaceutical industry has grown rapidly in recent years but Uganda still imports over 80% of its essential medicines and drugs mostly from India. According to Mckinsey, the international management and research consultancy, sub-Saharan Africa is an attractive market for the pharmaceutical industry. Between 2013 and 2020, prescription drugs are forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent, generics at 9 percent, over-the-counter medicines at 6 percent, and medical devices at 11 percent to derive projected total sales of between $40 billion and $60 billion annually.