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.
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.
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
Cardiovascular is Kenya’s most dominant and fastest-growing prescription market segment, worth around $40 million in 2017 and expected to show a CAGR of 15.4% to 2019, while the diabetes market was valued at approximately $35.2 million last year and is forecast to rise at a CAGR of 13.5% during 2010-2019.
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.