President Yoweri Museveni last week commissioned the Dei Biopharma manufacturing facility in Matugga, near Kampala.
The pharmaceutical plant will produce high quality yet affordable medicines across a range of therapeutic medications including cancer and malaria treatment, that will make a difference to millions of families across Africa.
He lauded the Dei Group Managing Director, Mathias Magoola, family, and those working with him for establishing the project, adding that it is such investments that will make Uganda a modern economy catalyzed by growth and development.
“We are entering a totally new phase in Uganda broadening and deepening our economy and one way is through people with resilience like Magoola,” he said.
The facility is also the only African pharmaceutical company now manufacturing the Covid-19 therapeutic medications and gearing to produce one billion doses of an mRNA vaccines guided by World Health Organization, WHO standards.
The development of the facility has been financed through partner funding from the Equity Group.
The Bank provided up to US$100 million funding for construction, importation of Hi-Tech Medical Equipment and machines as well as working capital support. Uganda Development Bank has contributed US$20 million.
“I congratulate and thank Equity Bank for supporting Magoola, “said the President.
In a speech at the commissioning of the multimillion-dollar facility, Magoola said that the factory, a toast of Uganda’s science innovation, will produce biologic solutions listed as essential drugs, including Filgrastim, Erythropoietin, and Trastuzumab, among several others, the first such source of biosimilars in Africa.
He revealed that Dei BioPharma has secured more than 3,000 formulations giving it a wide array of potential drugs for production, vaccines, anti-cancer drugs, ttherapeutic proteins, peptides and cell therapy among others.
Equity Group Holdings Chairman, Prof. Isaac Macharia lauded the Government of Uganda for having taken the bold step to support a project of this magnitude whose benefits will be felt across the continent.
“As Equity, we are aligned and want to contribute at the frontline, impactful largescale projects that hold great promise on the future of Africa as the world begins its journey of building back better by cushioning against major world shocks such as the collapse of global supply chains that were brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“It is gratifying to note that infectious diseases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality here in Africa and Dei Biopharma is a pacesetter in how Uganda is taking the lead in a solutions-first approach. A clear recognition of how the challenges we face presents great opportunities for investment, which are lessons that weren reinforced for Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dei Biopharma is an inspiring example of how Africa can create its own regional manufacturing, supply chains, and promote regional trade to cushion itself from over reliance on global supply chains,” he added.
Uganda’s National Drug Authority NDA Chairman Dr Medard Bitekyerezo called for amendment of the authority’s laws to enable it to certify medicines expeditiously for the world market.
“We are advocating for BUBU, Buy Uganda Build Uganda and we have walked with Magoola and providing technical support that will enable this factory to produce drugs that meet world standards,” he said
In March 2022, a team of experts from the WHO commended Dei Biopharma for establishing the manufacturing facility, saying it provides a base for Africa to effectively respond to Covid-19 and other viruses using both traditional and modern medicinal therapies.
Dei BioPharma Uganda Ltd is a medical and foods (nutraceuticals & pharmaceutical) research company incorporated in Uganda, January 2014 that produces medicines, food supplements and cosmetics.
Dei Natural Products started manufacturing hand sanitizer under the brand name Covanil and a natural ‘malaria suppressant’ Artavol which was taken prophylactically as an herbal ‘tea.’ Following refinement, the Dei anti-malarial was registered by National Drug Authority in Uganda as THA-218and is currently undergoing WHO testing and procedures towards certification in recognition of its antimalarial properties.
Dei BioPharma Uganda Ltd has now completed the first phase of what will be the first American Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) certified lab and production facility in Matugga area, Wakiso District in Uganda.
This will allow Dei BioPharma to trailblaze in being amongst the first manufacturers producing drugs and supplements for a global market from Africa once they receive the necessary recognition and approval from the World Health Organization who were in Uganda the first week to March 2022 to inspect the progress of the manufacturing plant. This first phase is set to produce tablets and capsules of targeted formulations based on demand. Future scale-up phases will allow for production of antibiotics and mRNA vaccine production is planned.
The pursuit for FDA/EMA/WHO recognition necessitated a variation of the project plan to allow FDA/EMA teams assess the project from the beginning and progressively. On completion, the fully-fledged pharmaceutical plant will have the following units which have been provided for:
i.Pharmaceutical Quality Control Centre
ii.Cancer Research Centre
iii. Drug Discovery Centre
iv.Bio-Tech Labs and office block (civil works) v.Pharmaceutical equipment and the HVAC System.
The initial project cost was UGX 312.8B (equiv. to US$ 83.8M) but with variations will cost-US$ 88M. 1. Pharmaceutical Plant Capacity – This is the section that is complete.
• A production plant for formulation of solid dosages and liquid plant with 30.7 million bottles per annum.
• Daily Production Capacity of Tablets (5M tablets), Capsules (5M pills), Pain killers (5m tablets) and Syrup Suspensions (96,000 bottles).
• Drug Types include (such as therapeutic areas from generics, non-beta lactam antibiotics, nutraceuticals, vitamins, and supplements as well as herbal products. Other drugs to be produced are Adalimumab, Filgrastim, Chemotherapeutic agents, Antivirals including for HIV/AIDS management, Drugs used in irradiation, Peg Filgrastim- for stimulation of white blood cells as well as Capacity for Covid Vaccines. Machinery for the plant was purchased from United Pharmatek LLC in the US, HVAC from TECO, Italy with some components of HVAC- Lab
2. Target Market
Dei Bio Pharma’s target market is mainly government hospitals, public hospitals and pharmaceutical outlets shops and export to regional markets. A key target for DEI biopharma in its scale- up is anti-infective given that infectious diseases remain the leading cause or mortality in Africa through malaria, tuberculosis, other bacterial & viral infections and with drugs quite unaffordable to the average Ugandan. Dei BioPharma reports that since most drugs are imported, further increasing cost of medicines, it will present a solution in line with its mission to combat malaria in Uganda and in Africa as a whole.
3. Equity Bank Project Funding
The Bank has partnered with the Client and provided up to US$ 50M funding (more than 40% of Overall Project Cost) for construction, importation of Hi-Tech Medical Equipment & machines as well as Working Capital Support.