The Danish drugmaker has committed around €70m ($78m) to build a manufacturing plant in Iran, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the regulatory body the Food and Drug Administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The finished facility is the first in the Middle-East region and will manufacture Novo Nordisk’s Flexpen - a prefilled disposable device for the delivery of Novo Nordisk’s long-acting insulin products – following the same procedures as at the firm’s other global sites, spokesperson Katrine Sperling told in-Pharmatechnoogist.com.
Furthermore, the decision to invest in Iran was taken due to the growing demand for insulin products in the country, she added.
“Iran is a large populated country, with millions of people with diabetes that gives Novo Nordisk the responsibility to be present in a sustainable way for the long term.
“Based on this, and the large potential of the local business coupled with increasing patient needs, we decided that it is worthwhile to make this investment in the country, rather than to continue to import our products.”
The GMP compliant site is set to take five years to complete and will create 160 jobs.
Middle-East rapidly changing security situation
While the investment in Iran is not linked to a greater expansion in the region from a local production point of view, Sperling said the firm “will continue to increase investment into our Middle-East markets in a variety of ways to ensure we meet increasing patient demand in a sustainable way.
“This will be done through initiatives such as healthcare professional and patient education projects, R&D investments and public-private partnerships for diabetes care capacity building,” she continued, but added there have historically been issues in the region holding the firm back.
“Our most notable challenge in the middle east, has been, and continues to be rapidly changing security situation across the region, which in Iran’s case has not been an issue.”
Continued global expansion
The expansion is the latest investment in Novo Nordisk’s manufacturing network.
Last month, the firm pledged $2bn to build facilities in North Carolina and Denmark in order to support its diabetes pipeline. And in April, the company opened a production plant in Russia; its first and the first insulin facility in the country.
While Russia has a policy in place to drive local pharma manufacturing, the same is not the case in Iran Rud von Sperling confirmed.
“There are no protectionist rules in Iran comparable to Russia, hence the decision to invest has not been based on this.”