Novartis has established a new headquarters in Turkey, and and says its hopes to build a manufacturing plant in the area.
The news came last week in a meeting held by Turkey's Science, Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergun.
During the visit, Novartis board member Alexandre Jetzer-Chung announced that the Swiss firm would look at Turkey as a "regional base" which would provide a foothold on markets in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
He said plans for the area include a new manufacturing facility for products in Africa and Asia.
Jetzer-Chung also said Novartis’ new facility in Turkey could act as a replacement for its failed attempts to establish Egypt as a health centre for Eastern territories, which fell down following the country’s recent unrest.
“Turkey may become the health centre of North Africa in the future,” he told the press.
However contrary to Jetzer-Chung, a spokesperson for the firm contacted in-PharmaTechnologist to say no solid plans have yet been laid for a new facility, and that it all hangs on the firm's success in a "challenging environment".
"Current market conditions and dynamics in Turkey create a challenging environment for major investments by Novartis," said the spokesperson.
"No commitments have been made by Novartis to date to expand the current manufacturing capacity in Turkey. If current conditions improve, Novartis will evaluate expansion of its collaborations around R&D and manufacturing in Turkey.”
The Turkey race
When in-PharmaTechnologist contacted Novartis to ask why Turkey is the decided hub for Asia, Africa and the Middle East the firm was unavailable for comment.
However during the meeting, the chief of the Swiss federal department of economic affairs, Johann Schneider-Ammann, earmarked the Turkish market as one of the most promising, saying: “We have come here to boost ties with Turkey”. He added the market is also an important “door to others”.
According to Business Monitor International the Turkish pharmaceutical market is expected to hit $10.3bn (€7.7bn) in 2012, although data from IMS Health suggests it hit this value back in 2009.
“It was not a coincidence for over 600 Swiss companies to operate in Turkey. Turkish market offers diverse opportunities and Turkey's geographical position offers an option to enter regional markets,” he told a World Bulletin reporter.
Ergun added that Novartis investment is “crucial” for Turkey, and hopes more companies will follow suit.
He said that although the benefits of investment in the country may be in the long-term, companies should consider the Turkish pharma market as a “strategic investment”.
He added: “The new incentive system to be announced soon will bring incentives for the medical sector as well”.