Afriplex was established in 2001 with strong focus on African indigenous plant extracts. Today, it is one of the leading contract manufacturers of CAMs and health supplement products in the country. P&C Review asked Afriplex’s Responsible Pharmacist, Robert Longrigg, a couple of questions about this growing business.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF AFRIPLEX?
Afriplex started 17 years ago with the original objective of unlocking the potential of traditionally used African botanical remedies. At initiation of our operations, we focussed on producing ingredients for the food and beverage industry. Since then our expansion into plant cultivation activities to supply African botanical plant material helped us gain a solid understanding of complementary medicines
(CAMs). Today, our mission is to conceptualise novel CAMs products for key clients, based on scientifically proven safety and efficacy data, manufactured and packed according to cGMP quality standards.
WHAT PRODUCTS AND SERVICES DOES AFRIPLEX OFFER?
We are more than just a contract manufacturer. We add value in all stages throughout the supply chain. The main products we offer are divided into active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and finished products. The oral solid dosage (OSD) finished forms we offer are capsules and tablets, including chewable, oro-dispersible, granulated and effervescent tablets. In expanding our capabilities, it was essential to install our microbiological laboratory, which has been fully functional over the last three years. Additional to this, we invested in a cGMP compliant analytical laboratory and stability chambers. The emphasis in our service delivery is to be adaptable and meet the needs of our clients. The services we offer include product development, product analysis, ZACTD compilation and stability programs. Since last year, we have again shifted emphasis on market requirements by concentrating more on health supplements in addition to our herbal medicine portfolio.
We have been an integral part in the ‘source to shelf’ process of launching and producing multiple new health supplements in various forms, including a range of probiotics.
HAS AFRIPLEX PIONEERED ANY MAJOR INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENTS?
The company is one of a few in South Africa that not only offers contract manufacturing for CAMs but also produces botanical extracts. Our focus is on African botanical plant extractions, promoting our continent’s unique biodiversity. Afriplex also prides itself in developing APIs and the complete compilation of their API master files. Our API developments include Folicin A/T® (in collaboration with the CSIR), Afriplex GRT® (in collaboration with the MRC), Prosopis (in collaboration with Innovus), Pelargonium S70® and Rosehip C®. We are privileged to work with many educational institutions and research organisations on various projects. This is to ensure there is sound scientific basis behind these products before we look at commercialising them. Our development partners include the Technology Innovation Agency, University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape, SAMRC, Innovus, University of Pretoria, CSIR and Stellenbosch University.
As part of our focus on education we are thrilled to host this year’s Afriplex Technical Symposium at the JSE in Sandton. This year’s schedule is set to pique the interest of Gauteng based clients as well as those from around the country.
WHAT IS AFRIPLEX’S CAPACITY FOR TABLET AND CAPSULE PRODUCTION?
Our initial focus was on liquid dosage forms but we quickly grew to include OSD forms into our product offering. We have increased our capacity both with state of the art equipment, and facility capability and expansion. This included the development investment of additional OSD rooms and extra packing lines. Our production capability stands at 50 million tablets and 30 million capsules per month. We have grown our in-house competencies by careful selection of expertly skilled minds and well experienced staff, both in our quality assurance and R&D departments.
Afriplex has a six-phase expansion project planned for the next few years. This will include additions to our OSD manufacturing and packing areas as well as adding in house blistering and tablet film coating to our offering. We aim to develop our abilities to meet the needs of our ever-developing client base and with this comes the imperative need for growth.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR AFRIPLEX?
We are committed to continued growth and expansion, both in our offering to customers and expertise with which we service the market. With this in mind we were excited to open our Johannesburg office in early 2018, servicing our Gauteng based clients. Our motto, ‘Source to Shelf’ best encompasses our vision of being a true one stop shop. By offering a wide range of services, we believe we are at the forefront of what is possible in our market. The value of our service offering within a cGMP compliant facility and our continuous development in line with pharma trends and requirements, keep the Afriplex team very excited about future possibilities – for the company and our clients.