DEPUTY President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi earlier on Thursday toured the Port Elizabeth manufacturing facility of JSE-listed Aspen Pharmacare, the country’s biggest generic drug maker.
Aspen hoped the visit would signal to investors the good working relationship that existed between the government and the private sector, said its head of strategic trade Stavros Nicolaou. Both the state and big business are on a charm offensive with international rating agencies, as they try to prevent SA from losing its investment grade credit rating.
The visit gave Aspen the opportunity to showcase its specialised manufacturing technology, and discuss its contributions to economic growth and exports, he said.
“It’s important they understand the value of local production,” he said.
Aspen has a presence in 76 countries, and distributed products to more than 150. Its global expansion had been matched with ongoing investments in domestic manufacturing capacity, which ran to more than R2bn in the past 18 months, said Mr Nicolaou.
Mr Ramaphosa, who chairs the South African National AIDS Council, said: “I salute Aspen for having the foresight to build these plants here in Port Elizabeth, therefore creating valuable high-tech jobs. It allows us as government to purchase medicines that Aspen produces at affordable prices.”
Aspen supplied one in four medicines prescribed by the state, and manufactured about a third of the AIDS drugs made in SA, according to Mr Nicolaou.