HAVANA – Cuba’s pharmaceutical industry generated $350 million in exports in 2007, ranking second in foreign sales behind nickel and coming in ahead of traditional products such as tobacco, rum and sugar, the official press reported last week.
“According to figures from the Basic Industry Ministry’s pharmaceutical group, Cuba earned some $350 million in 2007 from the sale abroad of some 180 medicines,” including both generic and biotechnology products, Bohemia magazine said in its online edition.
Cuba’s pharmaceuticals line-up includes vaccines for type B meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis B and influenza, as well as Heberprot P for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and interferon.
Bohemia noted “the close linkages in innovation, development and production between the extensive network of research centers and the medicine plants” in Cuba, adding that “unlike traditional exports,” the production of medicines and medical equipment is “a particularly strong option” for the domestic economy.
Cuba’s pharmaceutical industry plans to open three new plants this year for the production of ampules, syringes and freon-free aerosols.
In 2006, Cuba’s biotechnology industry, according to official figures, exported 38 medicines to 40 countries, generating sales of more than $50 million.
Currently, the island has joint ventures with South Africa, India and China, as well as technology transfer agreements with Brazil and Iran, and joint development deals with several countries, among them Venezuela, Vietnam and China.