AstraZeneca has started construction a €30 million tablet manufacturing plant in Egypt that could form a springboard for an expansion into emerging markets.
The new facility, which is expected to start production early in 2007, is designed to manufacture products for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, cancer and psychiatric disorders.
AstraZeneca said the decision to press ahead with the plant was helped in part by Egypt's decision to adopt the World Trade Organisation's TRIPS (Trade-related Intellectual Property) agreement protecting intellectual property rights from 1 January 2005.
The 7,000 square metre plant will have three production lines with a capacity of 250 million tablets but this could be expanded to produce 400 million tablets a year. Initially, the tablets will supply the local Egyptian market with the possibility that the plant may also export to neighbouring countries in the future.
AstraZeneca said it has identified Egypt as one of the key emerging markets for further development, together with such countries as China and Mexico, as part of its regional expansion strategy.
Bruno Angelici, AstraZeneca's executive vice president for international sales and marketing, said that the value of the Egyptian pharmaceutical market is around $1 billion (€750m) annually. Multinational companies supply around 65 per cent of the market through direct local manufacturing (30 per cent) or through licensing agreements (35 per cent).
Employment at AstraZeneca Egypt is expected to grow from its current 160-strong workforce to 300 employees when the factory opens.