LEADING STORY: First Ugandan Produced Covid-19 Medicine Approved by WHO

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • March 9, 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved DEI Biopharma’s Molnupiravir drug, the first such product to treat Covid-19 infection in the world.

DEI Biopharma has also laid out the plans for other essential newer products — including Paxlovid, Fluvoxamine, Ritonavir, Nirmatrelvir, and Rilpivirine.

The development was announced by DEI Group Managing Director Mr. Matthias Magoola during a visit of a team of experts from WHO at the Matugga based multibillion facility on Monday, March 7, 2022.

“We got the approvals a week ago, and we can now actually offer treatment for Covid-19,” Mr. Magoola said.

The WHO experts have been on a mission to Uganda since January 30, 2022 to provide technical support to the country in respect of the ongoing efforts to develop traditional based therapies for the treatment of Covid-19.

The team, comprising WHO’s Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 Response (REACT) members, experts from WHO headquarters and Regional Office, Africa CDC and WHO country office were on Monday given a tour of the Dei Biopharma manufacturing facility in Matugga, near Kampala, and were impressed with the works.

Speaking after the tour also attended by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza, Mr. Magoola indicated that
DEI Biopharma is the only African company now distributing the Covid-19 treatment medicines and getting ready to supply one billion doses of an mRNA vaccine through collaboration with the WHO.

He also also announced that DEI Biopharma has resolved all intellectual property issues and supply chain constraints to be the first company to distribute all new medicines against the Covid-19 and antiviral and resistant TB infections.

The WHO experts team leader Prof. Joseph Okeibunor said the team of experts were proud of DEI Biopharma efforts in fast-completing establishment of Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and the only fully integrated company, providing all dosage forms to all types of drugs, chemical, biological, and vaccines.
“We are proud of you!” he said.

Prof. Okeibunor added: “I am overjoyed [because] this is employment for Africa. I want to congratulate you and thank you for the opportunity to have come and see this massive investment”.

Dr Monica Musenero Masanza, the Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation, commended the DEI Biopharma team under the leadership of Mr. Magoola for carrying the flag of the African resilience so high, and promised continued government support.

“We need to make Africa stand on her feet. The dream is to industrialise Uganda, and Africa and turn it into industry such that we can fight poverty andunderdevelopment. This far, every effort has been in improving subsistence, but we are now saying, we are interested in industry. We want to take our knowledge and intellectual property, and eventually bring it through manufacturing and avail it to the world. This facility is a big component in the value chain,” the Minister said.

Mr Magoola also indicated that the biological products facility of DEI Biopharma will produce all of the biologic medicines listed as essential drugs, including filgrastim, erythropoietin, and trastuzumab, among several others, the first such source of biosimilars in Africa.

He said the manufacturing facilities of DEI Biopharma are built on modular platforms that have arrived or arriving from the EU and USA.

“These modules are fully cGMP compliant and allow DEI Biopharma to produce the highest quality products that will reduce the need to import lower quality drugs,” he said.

Mr. Magoola noted that the DEI Biopharma technology arrives from the EU and USA with the highest cGMP standards and safety evaluation.
When fully functional, DEI Biopharma will be the most prominent African company that will allow us to take care of the needs specific to Africa using the most modern drugs and therapies, in addition to the essential traditional medicines.
Accordingly, DEI Biopharma will fill in the most direly needed requirements of African health.

The mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility was launched by President Yoweri Museveni on July 6, 2021.

The WHO team of experts is set to meet President Museveni at the end of the visit later this week, after the mission that has taken them to the country’s physical and knowledge based facilities including government installations, the private sector and institutions like Makerere University.