Cuban biotech industry expected to double in five years: officials

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-4-25 11:19:52

Cuba's biotechnology industry is expected to double over the next five years, bringing in more than five billion US dollars in export revenues, officials said recently.

There is increasing international recognition of Cuba's biotech industry and the revenue for the 2013-2017 period is projected to double the 2.5 billion dollars that earned in the last five years, said Jose Luis Fernandez Yero, vice president of the country's biotech firm BioCubaFarma, in a recent TV interview.

Products manufactured by the biotech industry are currently sold in more than 50 countries and local authorities are working to expand the market.

BioCubaFarma, said Fernandez, was founded in April 2011 after the Sixth Congress of Cuba's Communist Party called for strengthening domestic pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to boost the economy as the sectors had the greatest export potential.

BioCubaFarma is to develop new products for the domestic market and help push Cuba towards a more high-tech economy, Fernandez said.

The group manufactures generic drugs, therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines, biomedicine, diagnostic systems and high-tech medical equipment. It also does researches on neuroscience and neurotechnology.

According to Fernandez, of the 881 generic drugs used in Cuba, 583 are manufactured in the country, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently acknowledged Cuba's political and financial support for biotechnology.

In the past 20 years, Cuba, even in times of economic hardship, has invested around one billion dollars in research and development, said the UN agency in a feature story on its website.

It noted Cuban scientists and researchers have made significant progress in their search for new cancer treatments and tools to improve diagnosis and prevention.

"Biotechnology is key to transforming cancer from a deadly disease into a chronic one," said Agustin Lage Davila in the WHO feature story.

According to the WHO, cancer claims around 31,000 lives each year in Cuba.

Posted in: Biology

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