Cypriot company targets Vietnam for generic expansion

A Cypriot drugmaker with experience in Vietnam, a market that some Big Pharma players have taken an interest in, has decided on its own expansion there.

Medochemie will invest about $16 million to build a 44,700-square-meter facility at an industrial park in Binh Duong Province, about 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam+ reports. Work began this month but the plant is expected to be completed yet this year and operational in 2016. The facility is being built to World Health Organization and European Union GMP standards, according to Tuoi Tre News.

There were no details about the kinds of products the Limassol, Cyprus-based generics maker will manufacture there, but it is the company's second facility in the same industrial park. It earlier built a $14 million, 18,400-square-meter facility there, Vietnam+ said. Tran Thanh Liem, vice chairman of the provincial people's committee, said that authorities would provide support to the project and deal with any difficulties to help get the project up and running quickly.

A report in 2013 pegged Vietnam to be the fastest growing pharma market in Southeast Asia, with consulting firm Pacific Bridge Medical calling for 20% annual growth through 2017. By 2020, 90% of Vietnamese are expected to be covered by the national health system, up from 65% today.

One Big Pharma player that has been trying to ride that wave is Sanofi ($SNY), which completed work last year on its third plant in Vietnam, on which it spent about $75 million. The company said in its annual report that the plant is making both specialty pharmaceuticals and consumer health products and would be used to support the launch of the feminine hygiene product Lactacyd in Japan. The plant is slated to produce 90 million units a year, with the capability of expanding to 150 million units if demand calls for it.

Before Sanofi's board booted Chris Viehbacher as CEO last year, he said he saw tremendous growth potential in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and that the new plant would give Sanofi the capacity for growth there and for expansion in markets like Indonesia and China.

- here's the Vietnam+ story 
- read the Tuoi Tre News story