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In global terms, Zimbabwe now ranks second from last (above the recently profiled Nicaragua), out of 82 markets surveyed by BMI. There is little hope of it improving this position in the coming months, owing to wide-ranging regulatory, political and economic deficiencies.
Given these issues, counterfeiting has grown. While a laudable effort to seize substandard medicines has been run by the authorities, the weak legal framework prolongs the time taken to grant permission to destroy consignments and prosecute offenders. With no real deterrent in place, and an increasing demand for medicine from the population, addressing counterfeit drugs in Zimbabwe will be difficult, despite international collaboration with international agencies. Antimalarials, steroids, antibiotics and erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines comprise the bulk of the counterfeit medicines.
On a positive note, local press recently reported the government is planning to increase the number of patients with access to HIV/AIDS antivirals (ARVs) to 250,000 state patients by end of 2010, and to 350,000 patients by 2012. The government's previous scheme exceeded its target of providing ARV drugs to 210,000 people in 2009. However, access to ARVs is hampered by shortages of qualified doctors as well as by a lack of infrastructural networks and continuing political bickering. In the meantime, the recently published Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme II (STERP II) indicated that the Zimbabwean government will support local production of medical drugs in three years, although the development must be viewed with caution, given the prevailing conditions in the country. We forecast that the value of the pharmaceutical market in Zimbabwe will increase from US$41mn in 2009 - a shadow of its former self - to US$61mn by 2014. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just over 8% (Zimbabwe has been dollarized). Through to 2019, this rate of growth will increase to strong double-digit figures, although we note that the overall market value will remain negligible in global terms, at just US$115mn in 2019, which represents only US$7.7 per capita. In 2010, benign price growth will bode well the real purchasing power of consumers (who have fresh memories of extreme levels of hyperinflation), although medicines remain out of reach for vast sections of the populace, especially given high unemployment levels.