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Aspen’s response to Monkeypox being declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by WHO

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive

Durban – JSE listed company Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited (Aspen), a global multinational specialty pharmaceutical company, is positively positioned to respond as a third party for capacity fill opportunities following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of monkeypox being a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This declaration is the first since that announced by WHO for COVID-19 in January 2020. 

At the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, Aspen was able to swiftly respond by making its extensive sterile formulation, fill and finish capabilities available in response to immediate surging demands. It would be in a position to step in and replicate this for Monkeypox should global circumstances and demands require this.

Monkeypox was declared a PHEIC by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference on 23 July 2022. The announcement was made given the rapid spread of the virus which has increased from 3 040 cases in 47 countries in June 2022 to more than 16 000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories, with five deaths reported. 

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said, “Aspen has always been at the forefront of providing healthcare solutions for global pandemics, as we did with the launch of one of the first generic antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV/Aids in August 2003. We also responded swiftly and decisively to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, initially through global contributions which we made with both our anaesthetics portfolio and dexamethasone supply. This action complemented our initiatives to build capacity and expertise to support global efforts and, in particular, address vaccine access inequality. This was achieved through partnership and licensing arrangements culminating in the potential to manufacture and supply the first and only locally finished COVID-19 vaccine, Aspenovax, in Africa for Africa.”

“Aspen once again stands ready to support the global effort needed to contain the latest threat which monkeypox represents, and we are available to do so through collaborations that would utilise our world class sterile and vaccine manufacturing facilities.”

Aspen has invested significantly in its sterile manufacturing site in Gqeberha, this being the single largest investment in the pharmaceutical industry in South Africa. The sterile facility, which was officially opened by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2021, contains high-technology, state-of-the-art pharmaceutical equipment and systems to manufacture advanced sterile medicines, including vaccines. 

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