South Africa, Lonza partner on $210 million API facility

South Africa is partnering with Swiss contract manufacturer Lonza on a $210 million API plant in an investment that looks to cut government costs for treating HIV.

Lonza will put up 500 million rand, or about $65 million, while state-funded institutions, such as the Industrial Development Corp., will provide 1 billion rand, or about $130 million. Pelchem, a subsidiary of the state-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corp., will provide infrastructure and land worth 100 million rand.

Business Day points out the initial ingredient slated for the API plant will utilize fluorspar for antiretrovirals. After China, South Africa has the second-largest reserves of fluorspar in the world, 95% of which is exported. The news service also says Pelchem has fluorine production facilities and is one of the only companies in South Africa processing it for local use.

Lonza gets a 30% stake in the venture, with 50% going to the government and the rest to investors. The plant will employ some 2,500 people, with key workers trained at Lonza's Swiss headquarters.

The venture, called Ketlaphela, is aimed at reducing drugmakers' imports of ingredients for HIV-fighting drugs beginning in 2016. InPharm says South Africa is the biggest importer of antiretroviral medicines in the world, with an estimated 5 million citizens infected with HIV and 1.3 million people receiving treatment for the virus. 

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor told Business Day the partnership eventually intends to move into ingredients for other drugs including tuberculosis treatments and malaria drugs.

- read the Business Day piece
- get more from InPharm