Cipla reopens Durban manufacturing after looting, putting life saving drugs back in production
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Durban - CIPLA’S manufacturing facility in Durban reopened on Thursday, after it was vandalised and looted during the unrest last month.
Chief executive of Cipla South Africa Paul Miller said it had taken just over a month to re-establish the facility, that had been raided by more than 1000 looters.
Miller said, in addition to millions of rand that the company had to spend to put the production line back on track, the generic drug manufacturer had to rely on its global supply chain, and other manufacturing sites, to ensure continuity of medicine supply, especially for key therapeutic areas, such as anti-retrovirals for people living with HIV.
According to Cipla, SA has about 7 million people who are living with HIV, 4 million of which rely on drug companies in SA, to supply life-saving treatment.
Miller said Cipla provided an estimated 20% of the HIV drug supply – about 800 000 people a month – who could not afford to default on HIV treatment.
“We estimate that at least one in five people rely on our medicines,” said Cipla.
From a stock perspective, Cipla said it had a good amount of buffer stock in other distribution centres across the country, which helped to mitigate all possible supply disruptions.
Miller commended the staff and surrounding community for support to get back on track.
“Thankfully, none of the more than 500 Cipla staff working at this plant were injured during this incident. Cipla staff have displayed an indomitable spirit and worked tirelessly to ensure that we can resume operations as quickly as possible at this facility. We were also blessed with support from various other role players in the local community, who helped in the aftermath of this incident,” said Miller.
The company said it had employed five contractors to fast-track the intensive clean-up operation and reparation process, to be in line with its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification.
Cipla de-listed from the SA stock exchange in July 2013, after being bought by the global business.
The company said, however, it remained supportive in ensuring SA and African region supply, as part of what it viewed as the most effective stimulators of economic growth and job creation.
In addition to the facility in Durban, Cipla also has a factory in Johannesburg, and another manufacturing plant in Uganda. The company said it aimed to empower various regions with their own manufacturing capabilities – and invested in upgrading technological capabilities at these plants to improve production capacity, drive digital innovation, and ensure uninterrupted access for patients to quality, affordable medication.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala attended the official opening of the site accompanied by MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay.
Zikalala commended Cipla for restoring production at the facility, saying it was a demonstration of exemplary leadership.
“What Cipla has done is a demonstration of confidence in the KZN economy, and helping it to rise. We hope, as a province, to be able to re-emerge wiser from the experience,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala reminded the pharmaceutical company of a previous consideration to expand the pharma company’s operations to the province’s Dube Trade Port, for what he said would facilitate intra Africa trade, enabling even more supply to other countries in the African region.