CinnaGen İlaç, one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has opened a new manufacturing plant in Çerkezköy, in northwestern Turkey's Tekirdağ.
The plant includes a research and development (R&D) facility for biopharmaceuticals as well as manufacturing capacity for local and international markets.
The factory, built with a total investment of $100 million, looks to achieve $100 million in annual exports to 20 countries. It will focus on the development and manufacturing of rare drugs and will prevent billions of dollars of imports. The plant will also produce the monoclonal antibody (mAb) based orphan drugs for the first time in Turkey.
CEO of CinnaGen İlaç Ferhat Farşi said the global pharmaceutical industry has reached $1.4 trillion in size. "Turkey is the leader among developing countries with an annual growth rate of 14 percent. Our country, which currently ranks 17th in the world, will become one of the top 15 global pharma markets in two years," he continued.
"But the growth here also poses another danger. Turkey can be an importer market in this field. The most important part of the pharmaceutical sector is the biotechnology market. The market size stands at $460 billion as of 2019. Within three years, the biotech market in Turkey will exceed the size of the current pharmaceutical market," he added.
The CinnaGen group was founded in 1994, while Farşi co-founded its Turkish affiliate in 2016.
Farşi said Turkey reached over TL 8 billion in the import of biotechnological drugs last year. "In 2018, we purchased TL 1 billion worth biotech products for cancer and insulin each, TL 500 million for blood diseases and TL 375 million for the eye diseases," he noted. "The average export value per kilogram of a chemical drug is TL 17, while it is $1 million per kilogram in biotechnology. We spend $2 million-$3 million in some trials to develop just one product with very high R&D expenditures and technology transfer."
With CinnaGen Pharmaceuticals entering the Turkish market, biotech imports worth $150 million would be saved in the first year. Farşi said they took the first official steps to become a net exporter in this field.
"We have signed agreements with countries such as Moldova, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, India, Serbia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Ecuador," he said. "We are completing all stages to export to Europe. After two years, we will start our first export to all European countries. The first product we will sell to Europe will be the medicines we have developed for MS patients."
He said around $30 million of the investment made in Çerkezköy was physical while $70 million was made on technology transfer. "The most challenging part of this field is to find skilled scientists. Turkey has lost its trained human resources to high-tech companies in the U.S. We also employ American scientists in our facility. We have 200 pharmacists with Ph.D. degrees. It is time to bring back our scientists who have gone to the U.S. to work in this field," said Farşi.