INTERVIEW: OSMAN KHALID WAHEED, PRESIDENT & CHAIRMAN FEROZSONS LABORATORIES LIMITED

(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
May 2 - 15, 20
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TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT.

BF Biosciences Limited inaugurated in July 2009 is a joint venture between Ferozsons Laboratories Limited of Pakistan and the Bagó Group of Argentina. It represents the first Joint Venture between the two countries, and is also the first biotech pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Pakistan. It is also the first pharmaceutical facility in the country to be built in full compliance to manufacturing standards set by the USFDA and the European Union (EMEA).

With a total investment of over Rs1 billion, BF Biosciences has been declared a state of the art manufacturing unit by the ministry of health. This project has been designed to meet the most rigorous quality standards applied anywhere in the world, and is aggressively pursuing export markets in Asia, Latin America, Europe and ultimately the United States.

WHY IS BIOTECHNOLOGY IMPORTANT FOR PAKISTAN?

Biotech medicines are the most important tools in the fight against dread diseases like Hepatitis B & C, Cancer, and Diabetes. Until now, we were completely dependant on imported, costly medicines for the treatment of these diseases. Since coming into production, our joint venture is not only setting a new benchmark in the quality and technical sophistication of the Pakistan pharmaceutical industry, it has also managed to significantly reduce the cost to the patient. The cost of Hepatitis C treatment with standard interferon has been reduced by 40-60 per cent, while chemotherapy costs have also come down by 50 per cent.

It is also a fact that the survival and stability of nations today depends foremost on their economic security, and for Pakistan it is more critical than ever to expand its manufacturing and export base, and move beyond primary commodities into new and value-added markets, particularly in knowledge-based sectors like biotechnology, which is one of the fastest-growing sectors worldwide.

HOW HAS THE EXPERIENCE BEEN SO FAR?

Biotech pharmaceuticals are an entirely new sector in Pakistan, and while being a start-up or a pioneer in a new sector is a thrilling prospect, it brings its own unique challenges. We have had to rely heavily on outside expertise and imported talent, an exceptionally costly endeavor in today's circumstances. At the same time, since production cycles are round-the-clock for biotech products, the energy crisis has also contributed heavily in raising the cost of production to uncompetitive levels. However, I am gratified that the market response to our products has been excellent, and all our products in both hepatitis C and Cancer segments are now market leaders in their categories.