The pharmaceutical industry in Kenya is growing at a rapid pace and offers excellent opportunities for exporters and manufacturers to establish their products and services in the lucrative market for pharmaceuticals in East Africa. Kenya is currently the largest producer of pharmaceutical products in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region, supplying about 50% of the regions’ market.

Kenya’s prescription pharmaceuticals market is worth over $500 million and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8% till 2020. Prescription drugs account for around 78% of the market. However, the fastest growth in the coming years is expected in the over-the-counter (OTC) product sales.

The pharmaceutical industry in Kenya consists of three segments namely the manufacturers, distributors and retailers. All these play a major role in supporting the country’s health sector, which is estimated to have about 5,000 health facilities countrywide.

The number of companies engaged in manufacturing and distributionof pharmaceutical products in Kenya continue to expand, driven by the Government’s efforts to promote local and foreign investment in the sector. There are about 700 registered wholesale and 1,300 retail dealers in Kenya, manned by registered pharmacists and pharmaceutical technologists. These pharmacies are accorded a 25% mark-up on retail drugs. The pharmaceutical sector in Kenya is also engaged in assembling capsules, disposable syringes, paracetamol, and surgical gauze amongst others.

Kenya spends about 8% of its GDP on health. The Kenya Medical Suppliers Agency (KEMSA), a division of the Ministry of Health, largely carries out the distribution of pharmaceutical products in Kenya. It distributes drugs to government public health facilities and private health facilities.

The health sector in Kenya is one of the sectors that has experienced remarkable development in the recent years. The country has made great efforts in controlling diseases like Malaria, TB and Cholera while actively fighting the AIDS/HIV pandemic. Similar efforts have been made in controlling communicable diseases like
poliomyelitis, neonatal tetanus and measles. The targets for eradication of the guinea worm disease and elimination of lymphatic filariasis and leprosy have been attained. Other parasitic diseases of epidemiological concern such as schistosomiasis, helminthiasis and leishmaniasis are seriously being addressed.

The market is heavily dependent on the private clientele, and affordability remains a primary restraint, together with low reimbursement rates. Kenya also enjoys preferential access to the regional market under a number of special access and duty reduction programmes related to the East African Community (EAC)
and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) among others.

Increasingly, urban consumers constitute Kenya’s primary market segment, while private hospital pharmacies remain the principal vendors within the market’s urban sector.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Companies In Kenya:

  • Alpha Medical Manufacturers – Nairobi
  • Aventis Pasteur SA East Africa – Nairobi
  • Bayer East Africa Limited – Nairobi
  • Beta Healthcare (Shelys Pharmaceuticals) – Nairobi
  • Cosmos Limited – Nairobi
  • Dawa Pharmaceuticals Limited – Nairobi
  • Didy Pharmaceutical – Nairobi
  • Diversey Lever – Nairobi
  • Eli-Lilly (Suisse) SA – Nairobi
  • Elys Chemical Industries Ltd – Nairobi
  • Glaxo SmithKline – Nairobi
  • High Chem East Africa Ltd – Nairobi
  • Ivee Aqua EPZ Limited – Athi River
  • Mac’s Pharmaceutical Ltd – Nairobi
  • Manhar Brothers (Kenya) Ltd – Nairobi
  • Novartis Rhone Poulenic Ltd – Nairobi
  • Novelty Manufacturers Ltd – Nairobi
  • Pfizer Corp (Agency) – Nairobi
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Co (K) Ltd – Nairobi
  • Pharmaceutical Products Limited – Nairobi
  • Phillips Pharmaceuticals Limited – Nairobi
  • Regal Pharmaceutical Ltd – Nairobi
  • Universal Pharmaceutical Limited – Nairobi

Cardiovascular, diabetes and anti-infectives constitute the largest and fastest-growing prescription market segments, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is reported to be Kenya’s leading pharmaceutical supplier, with around 12% market share. This is primarily due to the fact that the company reduced the prices of key products by approximately 40% a few years back. Around 41% of all anti-infective products sold in pharmacies were licensed to GlaxoSmithKline.

GlaxoSmithKline has been able to garner a substantial share of Kenya’s pharmaceutical market largely due to the popularity of its anti-infectives, which account for approximately 42% of all revenues generated in the prescription sector. The prices of Amoxil (amoxicillin) 500mg, Suprapen (amoxicillin plus flucloxacillin) 500mg and Floxapen (flucloxacillin) 500mg are particularly competitive within the respective active ingredient classes

Based on revenue segmentation, the top-selling cardiovascular product in Kenya was Nebilit [nebivolol) 5mg, licensed to Menarini, accounting for approximately 7% of revenues for all prescription products sold.

And within the diabetes therapeutic segment, Merck Serono’s Glucophage (metformin) 500mg was the most popular product, based on volume segmentation, accounting for approximately 19.8% of all oral hypoglycaemic tablets sold.

Kenyan private consumers’ prefer branded innovator products, despite the high penetration of generic manufacturers within the overall industry. A critical success factor within the Kenyan market is the use of distributors with established networks with key vendor outlets.

149 thoughts on “Companies controlling the pharmaceutical industry in Kenya”
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