Regulatory Authority Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the ZaZiBoNa Collaborative Medicines Registration Initiative: The Way Forward
Introduction: ZaZiBoNa, the work-sharing initiative in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that has been in operation for 8 years has successfully assessed over 300 dossiers/applications, with an overall median time to recommendation of 12 months. All 16 SADC countries participate in the initiative as either active or non-active members. While the successes of ZaZiBoNa are evident, some challenges still exist. The aim of this study was to solicit the views of the participating authorities on the effectiveness and efficiency of the current operating model of the ZaZiBoNa initiative. Methods: Data were collected in 2021 using the Process, Effectiveness and Efficiency Rating (PEER) questionnaire developed by the authors. The questionnaire was completed by the focal person in each country and approved by the head of the authority. Results: ZaZiBoNa serves as a platform for work sharing, information exchange, capacity building and harmonisation of registration requirements. One of the benefits to regulators has been the improvement in the capacity to conduct assessments. Manufacturers have benefited from compiling one package (modules 2–5) for the initial submission as well as a single response package to the consolidated list of questions, which saves time and resources. Respondents were of the view that patients have benefited as the ZaZiBoNa has contributed to an improved availability and accessibility to quality-assured medicines. Some of the challenges identified were the inadequacy of resources and differences in time to the implementation of ZaZiBoNa recommendations by the individual countries. The establishment of a regional unit hosted in one of the member countries to enable centralised submission and coordination was identified as the best strategy to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the initiative in the interim, with the long-term goal being the establishment of a regional medicines authority. Conclusion: The study identified the strengths of the ZaZiBoNa initiative as well as the opportunities for improvement. The recommendations made would further strengthen this initiative.