UAE, Indian firms form Dubai biopharmaceutical company

DUBAI — Neobiocon, a Dubai-based firm set up to manufacture bio-pharmaceutical products for life threatening diseases, will be spending Dh3 million over the next three years from "market creation" up to the time that the facility starts its operation.

By Jose Franco

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Tue 31 Jul 2007, 9:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:24 PM

A joint venture between Biocon, a leading Indian biotechnology firm based in Bangalore, and the Abu Dhabi-based pharmaceutical manufacturer, Neopharma, Neobiocon will be producing "affordable" medicines for cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, cardiology and anti-obesity, among others.

Company officials yesterday said biotherapeutics for cardiovascular, diabetes and oncology (all types of cancer) segments are the fastest growing class of drugs in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, whose pharmaceutical market is worth $5 billion.

Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director, Biocon, said Neobiocon would initially create the market for therapeutic drugs - where the margin of safety between curative and toxic levels is narrow - manufactured via biotechnology through education and information campaign.

This may also involve making representations with the proper authorities on the formulation of tertiary school curricula related to biotechnology, so that Neobiocon would be able to hire more local graduates. She is also thinking of a one-year post-baccalaureate degree in biotechnology that would guarantee graduates a job in the company. She added, however, that the company would also recruit the best talents from other parts of the world.

The next phases, she said, would involve setting up the necessary facilities at the Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (Dubiotech), and the manufacturing of 'small molecule' medicines. She expects a good return on investment after five years.

Yahya Alansari, business development director, Dubiotech, said his company would provide all the support needed by Neobiocon.

Mazumdar-Shaw said the Middle East, which forms 10 per cent of Biocon's business, is increasingly becoming an important market for her company, which registered a 25 per cent revenue growth to $250 million in 2006. Seventy per cent of her business in India involves the US and European markets.

She said Neobiocon would invest heavily on research and development (R&D) to address the issue of safety regarding therapeutic drugs. "It's all about understanding the diseases...that allows us to come up with better drugs," she added.

She said most existing therapeutic drugs had been discovered accidentally, thus there is a strong potential for new creations through R&D. "Biotech is an extremely important sector not only for Dubai but for the whole world," she said. "We will share all this knowledge with our partner."

Dr BR Shetty, managing director and CEO, Neopharma, said Neobiocon would make Dubai the centre for the creation of drugs to combat cancer. "Today is a 'red-letter day' in the medical field of the UAE," he said, stressing an important development in the field of drugs research and manufacturing.

Stressing that therapeutic drugs are "the way of the future", Mazumdar-Shaw said that 70 per cent of global treatment of various diseases by 2050 would be in the form of biotech products from the present 20 per cent.

She said the GCC region must develop initiatives for R&D in biotech considering that it has a high number of inhabitants suffering from diabetes, cancer and heart diseases, with the UAE as the regional diabetic capital.

Experts said diabetes, which used to be mainly hereditary, has in the more recent years also become an acquired illness due to unwatched diet and lack of physical exercise. Diabetes also leads to other life threatening diseases such as a heart attack and liver complications.

More news from