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Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai September 15 , 2021
Cuba offers huge opportunities for Indian pharma and biotech companies looking forward to investing in biotechnology sector. The Latin American country’s new joint venture for the development and commercialization of innovative biotechnology products in the Mariel Special Development Zone (MSDZ) has thrown up opportunity for Indian companies to explore untapped markets in the sector.

The joint venture named IncuBIO SA is established between Center of Molecular Immunology (Cimab SA), Cuba and Neuronic Mexicana SA, Mexico designed to attract venture capital for financing of clinical trials in underdeveloped country markets, said Uday Bhaskar, director general, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil).

First of such products scheduled to undergo trial would be NeuroEPO, a promising drug manufactured by Center of Molecular Immunology (Cimab SA), Cuba used for treatment for various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson and Ataxia, he said.

Mariel Special Development Zone is the first of its type in Cuba and enjoys a privileged geographic location i.e. in the centre of the Caribbean Sea and at the crossroads of the main maritime commercial traffic routes in the western hemisphere. The office of Mariel Special Development Zone provides information to investors and facilitates companies set up, registration and licensing. The regulatory framework establishes approval within two months from the submission of the file, said Bhaskar.

Cuba has a well-developed scheme in the biotechnology sector and it is believed that a joint venture/commercial agreement with such a quality institution could be an opportunity to explore untapped markets in the sector, stated Pharmexcil director general, adding that member companies looking forward to invest/partner in the initiative can reach out to Pharmexcil or Embassy of India in Havana.

The Union ministry of commerce and industry in close coordination with Indian missions around the globe are engaged in exploring opportunities for growth of the Indian pharmaceutical sector.

Pharmexcil has received communication from Embassy of India in Havana, Cuba regarding establishment of a new joint venture for the development and commercialization of innovative biotechnology products in the Mariel Special Development Zone.

Accordingly, it called on member companies to lap up lucrative opportunities in biotech sector offered the Caribbean Island.

The biotech industry in Cuba has been making headway since the 1980s, and manufactures eight out of the 11 vaccines on the national immunization schedule, as well as medicines and high value supplies that cater to some of the universal and free public health system’s needs.

Some of them include the vaccines against Meningitis B and C and Heberbiovac HB, against Hepatitis B, the latter gaining WHO prequalification and was then used in the Americas.

The Latin American nation will soon start the prequalification process before the World Health Organization for its Covid-19 vaccines--Abdala, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus.

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