New pharmaceutical body to tackle drug registration delay

Tamar Kahn: Business Day, 22 May 2013

THE first order of business for the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of SA (Ipasa) will be dealing with delays in registering new products with the Medicines Control Council, it said at its launch yesterday.

Ipasa is an industry association which describes itself as representing the interests of research-based pharmaceutical companies, and so far all its members are multinational firms. Ipasa was formed in April by the merger of Innovative Medicines SA (Imsa) and the Pharmaceutical Industry Association of SA (Piasa), as their interests had converged, said spokesman Pierre Bosch, local MD for Alcon Laboratories. The two industry associations had recently found themselves making virtually identical submissions to stakeholders, and were thought by the government to be representing the same interests.

One of their immediate concerns was the delay in getting new products approved by the Medicines Control Council, Bosch said. Imsa split off from the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) more than a decade ago, primarily over differences of opinion about the way the PMA had represented multinational pharmaceutical companies in a high-profile court case, which ultimately became a public relations disaster for the drug firms. The PMA challenged new medicine laws that, for the first time, would permit parallel importation of drugs from countries where they might be cheaper, and for the compulsory licensing of patented drugs to enable cheap local manufacturing.

Ipasa primarily represents the interests of companies that focus on research and development into new medicines, as opposed to those of generic companies which concentrate on making copies of existing products. However, some of its members, such as Pfizer, Novartis and Sanofi, have generic businesses too. The new body has tightened the membership criteria used by Imsa and Piasa, shedding local generics manufacturer Adcock Ingram, Fresenius-Kabi, Nkunzi, Umsinsi and the African Clinical Research Organisation.

In contrast to the view expressed this week by Netcare CEO Richard Friedland that the pharmaceutical sector would be spared the scrutiny of the Competition Commission in its upcoming market enquiry, Bosch said he expected that the industry would, in all likelihood, be examined.

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