Original articles

Pharmacoligaclly Active: Clinical Trials and the Pharmaceuticals Industry

Michael Jeffrey Kahn, Michael Gastrow


The global clinical trials industry is driven by the needs of pharmaceutical companies to bring new products to market, rapidly and in compliance with regulatory requirements. Many of the largest multinational pharmaceutical companies – the so-called ‘pharmas’ – are active in South Africa in importing and producing pharmaceuticals and in the conduct of clinical trials. This clinical trials industry now forms an important sub-sector of research and development (R&D) in the country. The release in August 2007 of the long-awaited Department of Trade and Industry national industrial policy framework designates four key value chains in the economy, one of which is chemicals, plastic fabrication and pharmaceuticals. This intention raises a key question: is South Africa to be a factory for the pharmas, or can it leverage its existing strengths in medical research and the conduct of clinical trials to develop a discovery-led local industry? This paper therefore offers an analytical and quantitative profile of the current state of the clinical trials industry in South Africa, to enquire as to its potential to grow a local pharmaceutical industry.

Authors' affiliations

Michael Jeffrey Kahn, Human Sciences Research Council

Michael Gastrow, Human Sciences Research Council

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Clinical trials; research and development

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2008;98(2):114.

Article History

Date submitted: 2007-08-14
Date published: 2008-02-11

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