Gulf Pharmaceutical commits to sterile injectable plant in Ethiopia

When Gulf Pharmaceutical decided to invest about $10 million to build a pharma manufacturing plant in Ethiopia some years back, it seemed like a big risk, a company executive recently acknowledged. With a solid dose plant doing well, the United Arab Emirates-based company is ready to invest 5 times that in a sterile injectable drug manufacturing plant.

"At the beginning, it was like coming into a black box for us to move on such a big investment in Ethiopia," Hassan Jibreel, senior director of corporate development told the publication, about Gulf Pharmaceutical's decision to select Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa for its first facility outside of the UAE. "But, it turned out to be very different."

The drugmaker says that it will spend $50 million to build a plant and warehouse that it claims will be the largest sterile drug manufacturing site in the country, according to Ethiopian business publication company has obtained an 11,000-square-meter site and expects to be ready for manufacturing insulin by the end of this year, producing enough not only to meet demand in Ethiopia but also across the African continent.

Jibreel said the company will also host conferences to help local manufacturers. "We feel the local manufacturers really lack up-to-date knowledge in the area; so we want to focus on building up capacity through Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and that is why we want to organize workshops to share our experience in that regard."

Gulf Pharmaceuticals is not the first Middle East-based drugmaker to look to build an operation in Ethiopia. Jordan-based Hikma, announced in 2013 that it would erect a $22.3 million facility as part of a 50-50 joint venture with MIDROC Pharmaceuticals, which is part of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi's MIDROC Group. The JV had expected to have the facility and distribution center complete in 2017. A spokesperson today that the project is still in the process. 

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