x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Local company produces H1N1 drug

Millions of capsules containing the generic version of the H1N1 antiviral drug Tamiflu roll off the production line at one of the UAE's largest pharmaceutical plants.

Abu Dhabi // Millions of capsules containing the generic version of the H1N1 antiviral drug Tamiflu are rolling off the production line at one of the largest pharmaceutical plants in the UAE. BR Flu, which has the same active ingredient as Tamiflu, is being made at the Neopharma plant in Musaffah. The company has received orders for the drug from Middle Eastern countries including Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The company had been trying for two years to get the drug registered with the Ministry of Health, said Dr Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, managing director and chief executive of the NMC Group. "I feel it is my social responsibility to help when I can," he said. "We are very pleased to be making this drug. It is very good for Abu Dhabi." Dr Shetty said the plant had the capacity and materials to produce 20 million capsules over the next six months.

He said the company also hopes to become a local manufacturer of the H1N1 vaccine. Neopharma is currently the UAE distributor for one of the manufacturers of the vaccine, Sanofi Aventis. "The product is already registered with the Ministry of Health, but we have requested to manufacturer it here," he said. "We hope to have the vaccine ready by the end of this year, within two months." Neopharma, which is part of the NMC Group, also announced yesterday that it was expanding into biotechnology and nanotechnology-based research and manufacturing.

New facilities costing Dh250 million (US$68m) are expected to be operating within 14 months. They will be used to manufacturer nutraceuticals - food extracts believed to have a medicinal effect - eye care products, topical applications and aerosols. "Companies across the globe are reluctant to start new initiatives due to the impact of the recession," Dr Shetty said. "Yet at Neopharma, we have been aggressively pressing ahead with our organic growth initiatives that remain crucial to the future of the company."

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and chairman of NMC, and Abdullah al Mazroei, vice chairman of NMC, also were present at the announcement yesterday. munderwood@thenational.ae