The establishment of joint ventures in the fields of medicine and pharmaceuticals, between Russia and Cuba, directed toward strengthening beneficial trade among entities responsible for the sale and production of equipment, medicines and state-of-the-art technologies - with visible results - was just one of several issues discussed during the First Cuba-Russia Medical-Pharmaceutical Bilateral Business Forum recently held in Havana.
The event aimed to foster alliances for the development of value chains between entities in both countries; provide Russian business people with up-to-date information on Cuba’s medical-pharmaceutical sector; and identify opportunities for collaboration between research universities and institutions, technological parks and regulatory and legal frameworks.
The Forum saw the participation of 10 companies, during which representatives also discussed licensing Cuban products for the Russian market; supporting scientific projects; technology transfers; and the establishment of joint ventures between the two counties, with Russia providing the direct foreign investment for the production of medicines and pharmaceuticals on the island.
Also addressed was the establishment - under business project licenses - of Cuban-Russian medical-pharmaceutical enterprises as well as projects with academic institutions from the Eurasian country for the development of medicines.
In addition to the signing of agreements between various companies, the event also saw the identification of raw material suppliers, equipment suppliers, and service and consultation providers. There was also discussion around developing medical treatments and improving quality of life for patients in both countries.
Speaking to Granma International, Marketing Director of the Cuban state enterprise group BioCubaFarma, Mayda Maurí Pérez, noted that Russia represents a strategic partner for the entity.
“This is an extremely important event given the close level of existing relations between the two countries, and the opportunities and synergies maintained between them, above all toward strengthening the pharmaceutical sector, vital to our economic development.”
The director highlighted that there are important examples of prior bilateral efforts in the distribution of Cuban medicines registered in Russia, with good prospects of establishing a federal program, which would give Russian patients the opportunity to benefit from innovative Cuban-developed products.
“This forum has given us the chance to have the participation of the most important, advanced, and prominent Russian companies in the biopharmaceutical sector, with which we have identified interests ranging from purchases of supplies and equipment produced in Russia to bilateral agreements for products from the Cuban biopharmaceutical industry to be sold there,” she added.
Maurí also mentioned various important industry results at a national level, such as the creation of monoclonal anti-bodies to treat cancer, above all in the form of therapeutic injectables, with the potential to be produced in Russian facilities.
She went on to emphasize treatments for international patients offered by the Cuban Medical Services entity in specialized facilities on the island.
“The possibilities are limitless,” stated Maurí Pérez, “Biocubafarma is undertaking various projects with foreign investment and we are inviting Russian investors to accompany us in the construction of several production plants in the Mariel Special Development Zone (east of Havana) which are set to include units for joint development in the spheres of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.”
The two parties are aiming to make these types of exchanges an annual occurrence, with meetings held in both countries.
This first Forum saw the participation of representatives from the Cuban and Russian Chambers of Commerce, ministries of Foreign Trade and Investment, and Health, as well as delegations of businesspeople. The event was also attended by drug regulatory authorities, to ensure that that agreements stemming from the forum were provided with legal support and implemented in adherence to the regulatory framework on medication imports and exports.
Meanwhile, Aleksandr Bogatyr, Russia’s trade representative in Cuba described the forum as a unique event, and highlighted among other collaborative efforts, the transfer of advanced technologies: “We are assessing prospects for joint production and distribution, clinical trials and scientific research. The most important thing is that we have a broad history of reciprocal collaboration.”
In this regard, he went on to cite the introduction of Heberprot-P in Russia, a medicine which aids the healing of complex wounds and foot ulcers in diabetic patients. The product is currently sold in health institutions and is already included on the country’s list of essential pharmaceuticals.
He went on to mention other spheres of the economy which benefit from bilateral trade, in particular transport. “We have signed agreements to establish plans for the development of railway infrastructure, a sphere we intend to expand with Russian technologies because this means of transport has the potential to support the development of other industries.”
According to the director, the fact that many Cubans have been trained in Russia is a bonus when it comes to establishing joint ventures and policies. “We Russians have encountered a very favorable situation in Cuba. We appreciate Cubans’ warmth and hospitality. Both peoples have a rich history of shared ties, which is why we will continue to develop relations of friendship and fraternity,” he concluded.