Pharmaceutical Wholesalers affect a populous country’s health, environment, and economics. Ghana is not an exception to this. In order to combat all these threats, some companies in Ghana employ people who are specialized in wholesalers, like Aseda Chemicals and Equipment Ltd.
Any pharmaceuticals and medical supplies supplier has a single role: to buy it at the wholesale level and then sell it in the retail route. By doing this, they start building a store to find better ways of pushing pharmaceuticals from the retail market to the whole market by consistent pricing.
Type and Composition of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers in Ghana
As reported by the Centre for Pharmaceutical Management, quoting directly from the Gazette of the Republic of Ghana, there were 15 manufacturing wholesalers in Ghana in 2000. Manufacturing wholesalers are defined as businesses with both backward and forward linkages in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. For example, one company, Aseda Chemicals and Equipment Ltd, was involved in manufacturing and importing drugs and was also a registered wholesale retailer. Further, 79 wholesalers also engaged in some retail activities and 280 registered wholesale retailers in the country in the year 2000.
The current number of pharmaceutical manufacturers – including those also engaged in the importation, wholesale or other areas of the supply chain – is between 25 and 30. Seiter and Gyansa-Lutterodt (2009) outline the structure of the pharmaceutical wholesale market in the year 2008.
They indicate that about 150 companies are licensed or registered national or regional wholesalers of pharmaceutical products. Further, about 60 companies act as importers of pharmaceutical products and sell them to local distributors based on their own networks.
Seiter and Gyansa-Lutterodt (2009) report that the total number of businesses involved in active drug import and distribution is between 200 and 300. These numbers are similar to those of registered wholesalers of pharmaceutical products in Ghana in 2000, as the Centre for Pharmaceutical Management (2003) reported.
Given Ghana’s moderately high economic growth over the last 25 years, the local pharmaceutical market has become increasingly attractive for both wholesale and retail suppliers. Local producers account for about 30% of the market share, with the remaining 70% share supplied mainly by Indian and Chinese pharmaceutical firms.
In principle, a retail pharmacy in a small-localized area can act as a wholesaler for local chemical sellers or local clinics and hospitals.
This means that potentially pharmaceutical wholesalers can run into several hundred, given the number of districts and local council areas in Ghana and the dominance of one pharmaceutical retailer in a given area, especially in remote parts of the country.
Therefore, from an economic analytical viewpoint, the pharmaceutical wholesale market in Ghana has a monopolistic competitive market structure on the supply side; that is, the market is characterized by many sellers who distinguish themselves from each other through branding and selective advertising.
· Local Manufacturers: Producers of finished pharmaceutical goods from raw materials (especially on a large industrial scale) within Ghana.
· Importers of Pharmaceutical Products: Importers for customs purposes – the party who makes (or on whose behalf an agent or broker makes) the import declaration and who is liable for the payment of duties (if any) on the imported pharmaceutical goods. Normally, this party is named either as the consignee on shipping documents and/or as the buyer on the exporter’s invoice.
· Wholesalers: Firms that buy large quantities of goods from various producers or vendors, warehouse them, and resell them to retailers.
· Licensed Chemical Sellers: Facilities registered by the Pharmacy Council to trade in Class B medicines in accordance with the Pharmacy Act 64.
Quality assurance consists of an organized arrangement to ensure that medicines will be of the quality, efficacy, and safety required for the intended use.
Assurance of the quality of medicine in the supply chain requires all players to maintain best practices throughout the supply chain from manufacturer to the end user, as well as reverse logistics for the withdrawal of medicines that fall short of the accepted standards of quality.
The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) is the national regulatory body under the Ministry of Health with the responsibility of implementing the Food and Drugs Law of 1992 (PNDCL 305B) to regulate the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, use, and advertisements of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and household chemicals with respect to ensuring their safety, quality and efficacy. The scope of their mandate covers among others, the regulation of:
- Medicines and vaccines registration and approval
- Allopathic and Herbal Medicines permit regulation
- Over-The-Counter and prescription drug labeling
- Drugs Safety Monitoring
Access to medicines relies on good geographical access to prescribing and dispensing facilities for all patients/customers, including in rural and remote settings.
The role of private wholesalers in ensuring geographical access is critical, as these stakeholders’ decisions directly impact the stocks held by dispensing facilities. Delivery of medicines is a significant cost to wholesalers and this serves as a disincentive for ensuring that medicines are made available to the most remote regions.
One major barrier to access to medicines is affordability by the end-user or patient. The end user price is made up of several components that are under the control of policy-makers, manufacturers, wholesalers, or retailers.
The willingness of these parties to reduce the prices of medicines is influenced by factors such as supply and demand, taxes and tariffs, prices of competing products, logistical costs, financial risk, company strategies, and management efficiency. Affordability by the end user is also influenced by household income levels, particularly if patients must purchase medicines “out of pocket” rather than using health insurance, for example. These factors contribute to whether a patient can overcome the affordability barrier to access medicines.