Rwanda is upgrading its pharmaceutical laboratory to give it a capacity to test more strong drugs.
By December this year, the newly introduced ‘Medical and pharmaceutical laboratory’ will have the capacity to test 100 types of medicine from 35 types since July when the laboratory started its operations.
“We have new machines that will do that work starting with essential medicines including; anti-Malaria, antiretroviral, anti-Tuberculosis and antibiotics,” Raymond Murenzi, Director General of Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) told KT Press.
RSB in partnership with Ministry of Health joined forces in 2014 and came up with a Rwf4 billion ‘Medical and pharmaceutical laboratory’ that analyzes imported and locally manufactured medicines and ascertain their quality and efficacy.
According to RSB, substandard medicine has been identified especially in developing countries and poses a serious health issue because of limited regulation and inspection.
“Counterfeited medicines have negative impacts on people’s health, for example an anti-malaria containing no active ingredient on market, the trust of patients into health care and medicines is gradually fading away,” said Murenzi.
Murenzi said that the laboratory will facilitate trade and boost the country’s economy.
“There are foreign pharmaceutical companies that have been interested in having branches in Rwanda but were blocked by lack of testing facilities, we hope that now they have good reasons to come,” Murenzi said.
Among interested companies there is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British multinational, one of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and Cooper Pharma, Moroccan pharmaceutical laboratory.
Medical and pharmaceutical Testing laboratory currently has testing capabilities of different parameters in anti-Malaria, antiretroviral, anti-Tuberculosis and antibiotics.
The lab can test the size of medicines, their acidity and alkalinity, their disintegration and dissolution, and their water content.
Construction works of the laboratory started in 2014 and concluded in July this year. The laboratory employs more than 30 chemists with at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and pharmacy.
So far all medicines are imported. Rwanda’s pharmaceutical industry still needs to grow to be able manufacture its own medicines.
However some small industries manufacture traditional medicine as well as medical devices including tubes and gloves.
Murenzi said it is challenging to the laboratory to test the locally manufactured medicines because manufacturers are not able to interpret them scientifically.
“For example you find usage instructions inside other medicine boxes, but for the traditional medicine there are not even active ingredients marking the quantity of medicine, side effects among others which makes it hard for testing,” He said.
Local phamarcists believe the Laboratory is going to benefit them.
“It is going to help us to be trusted by patients because we will deliver quality medicines which makes us confident,” said John Gashayija, a pharmacist at Sana Pharmacy in Kigali city.