The latest from South African pharma, including President Ramaphosa’s blunt criticism of Big Pharma, Aspen’s reception of USD 700 million in international financial aid, Adcock Ingram’s disappointing results as fewer elective surgeries and doctor visits hit their first half revenue, and the battle to bridge digital divide in COVID-19 vaccination race.


South African president accuses Big Pharma of ‘selfish, unjust’ vaccine policy

South Africa’s president said the “selfish, unjust” refusal of pharmaceutical companies and allied Western governments to entertain emergency patent waivers on COVID-19 vaccines was endangering the entire world.

In unusually impassioned remarks, Cyril Ramaphosa lambasted a resistance to calls by India and South Africa for temporary patent waivers to ramp up production.

“It is selfish, it is unjust, it is wholly unfair,” Ramaphosa, proponent of the waiver, told the opening virtual session of the Qatar Economic Forum, a day after South Africa registered 13,000 new cases in a third COVID-19 wave.


Aspen Pharma to partner with finance institutions to boost vaccine know-how

A group of global finance institutions led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) said on Wednesday they would help to facilitate an increase in vaccine manufacturing know-how in Africa by partnering with South African pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare.

As a first step, the IFC, French development institution Proparco, German development finance institution DEG and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation jointly loaned 600 million euros ($712 million) to the company.


South African pharma major Adcock Ingram’s profit drops as pandemic hits demand

South Africa’s Adcock Ingram said on Wednesday its first-half profit dropped 14.6% as fewer elective surgeries and doctor visits during the COVID-19 pandemic hit demand for its surgical instruments and branded prescription drugs.

The hit was somewhat cushioned by strong demand for immunity-boosting products, which drove an almost 50% surge in profit in the consumer division that accounts for a fourth of the pharmaceutical company’s gross profits.


South Africa approves China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

South Africa has approved China’s Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19, the acting health minister said on Saturday, as the country faces a crippling third wave of infections that has paralysed hospitals and brought its death toll to 60,000.

The surge in infections in Africa’s most industrialised nation has overwhelmed hospitals, especially in the main city of Johannesburg, and left overworked healthcare personnel struggling to find enough beds for critically ill patients.


Johnson & Johnson Vaccines to be Produced in South Africa Under License

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that a new “historic agreement” will ramp up the delivery of Johnson & Johnson vaccines to South Africa and the rest of the continent – while the US pharmaceutical giant has also committed to allow South Africa, in time, to manufacture its vaccines.


South Africans battle to bridge digital divide in COVID-19 vaccination race

As daily COVID-19 cases rise, progress on the national inoculation drive has been slow, and campaigners fear people living in rural areas, or those without an internet connection or private medical aid may be left behind altogether.

So far, 3.7% of South Africa’s roughly 58 million people have received at least one vaccine dose, according to a Reuters tally, with only healthcare workers and the over-60s currently eligible.