Chávez sets up pharma site to provide for allies

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Venezuela has inaugurated a state funded pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and allocated resources for a new complex as part of the nation’s attempts to provide subsidized drugs to citizens.

The pharmaceutical complex is being established to produce insulin, antibiotics and anti-retrovirals, which will be available at subsidised or production costs to Venezuelans and member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

In addition to establishing the facility the Venezuelan government has allocated $83m (€62m) to spend on the pharma complex in 2009 and 2010, with the intention of ensuring the nation has sufficient supply of therapeutics.

Speaking on his weekly talk show Aló Presidente​ Hugo Chávez, the president of Venzuela, said: "We are starting to make medicine of a high quality in a way that has never happened before in Venezuela​. We're going to convert ourselves into exporters of medicine in the future. First, of course, for us, and later to share with other countries​.”

Chávez added that the complex aims “to guarantee the right to health and life to the people, not only for those who can pay, as under capitalism where if you can pay you're guaranteed everything​".

Once complete the complex will produce drugs for treating diseases including Chagas, malaria and tuberculosis, which Fernando Rodriguez Urbano, president of the factory, believes are not provided by the private sector because they are unprofitable.

Jesus Mantilla, Venezuela’s health minister, said the complex will have the capacity to supply all the countries of ALBA, which consists of seven countries including Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.

Details of the complex

The current facility covers 1,805 sq m and houses an area for raw materials, a laboratory quality control section, production capacity and a warehouse. In addition a sterile area is dedicated to the production of TB treatments.

Located in Caracas in northern Venezuela the facility will initially employ 50 people, although this could rise to 110 in the future, and contains equipment from suppliers in Germany, China and Italy.

Raw materials are to be shipped from countries including New Zealand, China, Mexico, Germany, Italy and India, with Urbano stressing the importance of ensuring the quality of supplies.

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