Ajay Kumar Pal replaces Nervin Bradford as new Cipla CEO

UGANDA – Cipla Quality Chemicals Ltd, the producer of human drugs including anti-malarial and anti-retroviral is set to receive a new managing director, Ajay Kumar Pal to take over the Luzira-based firm next month.

Kumar will succeed Nevin Bradford, who has been CEO since 2013 and doubling as the executive director and head of Cipla’s Rest of Africa Business-a portfolio, he held prior to his current appointment. Bradford will be will be retiring.

Emmanuel Katongole, the company’s board chairperson, said Kumar joined the company in February last year as the chief operating officer.

Holding a Master of Business Administration in Management and Leadership from Nelson Mandela University – South Africa and a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) – India, the new CEO Kumar has over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, spreading across South Africa and India.

Assurance Pharmacist and now heading the Regulatory Affairs department was appointed as the company pharmacist effective May this year, replacing Dr. Samuel Opio who left the company on April 30.

Kumar comes at the time the drug manufacturing company’s share price on the Uganda Securities Exchange is trading at an average of UShs100 down from UShs 256.5 per share during the IPO in 2018.

The company is yet to publish its financial results for the year ended March 2021. In the previous year, Cipla recorded a UShs36bn loss compared to a profit of UShs7bn recorded in the previous year as additional impairment allowance, drop in gross margins and increase in interest on overdraft took a toll on the company.

The company’s impairment allowance on the financial assets increased by Shs3bn to Shs32billion due to delayed payment for drugs supplied to the Zambian government.

However, Katongole said last year that the Ugandan government had engaged with the Zambian government to expedite the settlement of the outstanding balance.

“Furthermore, management is also exploring other avenues to recover these funds…any reduction in outstanding balances from GOZ will result in a reversal of the impairment allowance to that extent,” Katongole said.

The company’s gross profit reduced from Shs53.48bn to Shs 36.94bn during the same period under review due to change in product mix in the new orders received after suspension of sales to Zambia and increase in orders from international health organizations as well as increased competition in some of the product ranges, which in turn, placed pressure on pricing to remain competitive.

Nevertheless, local drug sales increased by 18% during the period due to increased orders from international health organizations for delivery within the country as cash flows from operations increased from a deficit of Shs49bn to Shs23billion as a result of improved collections.

Cipla received a renewal of its World Health Organization Good Manufacturing Practices (WHO GMP) qualification for a further three years for the fourth time. In addition, it also received GMP approval from Zazibona (the grouping of nine Southern African countries) and SAPHRA, the South African regulatory body.

This was followed up with SAPHRA’s step to approve the Cipla’s two ARV’s, Tenofovir, Emtricitabine, Efavirenz (TEE) and Tenofovir, Lamivudine, Dolutegravir (TLD) for supply to South Africa.

Cipla started its operations in 2005 as a joint venture between Quality Chemical Limited (QCL), a Ugandan company dealing in the importation and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs, and Cipla Ltd, a leading Indian pharmaceutical company specializing in manufacturing anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) to combat HIV/Aids and malaria respectively.

Since then, the firm has initiated multiple capacity expansion programs and portfolio expansions, including the launch of new therapies.

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