Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 13 July 2020

BR Shetty’s Neopharma continues operations despite lack of access to funds

Director of plant operations says there is enough raw material to continue production for six to eight months

Archive image of boxes of tablets coming off the production line at a Neopharma plant in Mussafah. The company opened its first plant in 2003 and now has three in the area employing about 600 people, as well as operations in 10 countries around the world. Philip Cheung / The National 
Archive image of boxes of tablets coming off the production line at a Neopharma plant in Mussafah. The company opened its first plant in 2003 and now has three in the area employing about 600 people, as well as operations in 10 countries around the world. Philip Cheung / The National 

BR Shetty’s Neopharma pharmaceutical business is continuing operations as normal, despite a freeze on the company's bank accounts due to the ongoing tribulations faced by its founder, the director of plant operations at the firm said.

Suresh Pai, who was Mr Shetty’s first employee when Neopharma was set up in 2002, said “morale is very high” among its workers despite the fact that salaries have not been paid.

“We are performing as normal,” Mr Pai, who now oversees three factories employing about 600 people, said. “Production is going on as usual ... sustained supplies have to be maintained for the market at this time of medical crisis.”

Mr Shetty told The National in an interview this week that the freezing of his bank accounts has had a knock-on effect on other parts of the business, meaning he had been unable to pay salaries at Neopharma. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the company was in talks with lenders to restructure Dh1 billion in debt, which could involve bringing in a new strategic investor. Mr Pai said he had no knowledge of the discussions with lenders.

Neopharma began operations from a single factory in 2003 and now has a capacity to produce 2 billion pills from its three plants in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi. The company carries out contract manufacturing of medicines for giants including global Abbott Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck as well as generic drugs that are no longer under patent protection. It produces anti-infection drugs like levofloxacin and azithromycin that are used to treat Covid-19 patients.

The company is continuing to receive orders, Mr Pai said. As a pharmaceutical firm, it has emergency management and business continuity plans in place to ensure it has enough materials to continue production for six to eight months.

“If it continues for a longer period of time, then maybe we will be in a little difficult position. But I am sure that it [the bank account] is going to get released soon and hopefully we are back in action.”

Updated: May 28, 2020 08:18 PM

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