Those who invest in biotechnology will win

Those who invest in biotechnology will win

On the fifth anniversary of the partnership of Abdi İbrahim Pharmaceuticals, which was established in 1912 and 96-year-old Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., we met with Chairman of the Board of Directors Nezih Barut and his Japanese partners.

The license agreement between the two drug giants, one in Turkey and the other in Japan, goes back 15 years ago.

In 2012, they established the company “Abdi İbrahim Otsuka (AİO)” with a 50/50 percent partnership.

AİO produces Otsuka’s innovative products in its facilities in Turkey and exports them to Algeria, Tunisia and Singapore. Its turnover expectation for the year 2017 is 51 million Turkish Liras. Their goal for 2023 is to produce 1,200,000 boxes of drugs and raise their turnover expectation to 130 million liras.

According to Barut, AİO’s partnership with the Japanese opened the door for Abdi İbrahim to engage in other partnerships. Today, the company’s partnerships in Algeria and Kazakhstan grow with firm steps.

Changing sector

Being among the most important drug companies in the world, with a $4.5 million turnover in 2016, Otsuka was the first to sign on to the “drug-device” combination. They succeeded in placing a digestible sensor the size of a grain of sand inside a drug tablet.

The sensor in the tablet sends a message to a band stuck on the patient’s skin, which is sent to a smartphone application on the phone of the person who looks after the patient. This way, it is possible to check the dose of the drug and whether the patient has taken it or not.

Barut said this drug had been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“It is the beginning of a revolutionary period in following patients and illness in the field of psychiatry,” he said.

He said that AOİ had already started working on bringing this drug to Turkey and had informed us about “biotechnology” in the drug sector.

“Companies that invest in biotechnology are here to stay but the rest will disappear because the drug sector is changing,” said Barut.

Therefore, brands such as Google and Microsoft are investing more in this sector.

We are after a new molecule

“The global percentage for the use of biotech drugs is greater than 20 percent,” said Barut, adding that as a Turkish company they are after a new molecule.

“We have not yet found a new molecule, but we might find it soon because we have bought 12 percent of a company that works on molecule R&D in the U.S.,” he said.

Barut said they had invested $10 million in a company named Ocugel with their Kazakh partners and would invest another $10 million dollars, adding that one of the three drugs Ocugel has worked on has been approved by FDA.

Abdi İbrahim has spent 700 million liras on R&D expenses in 12 years and $100 million on facility investment in 2015 in the field of biotechnology.

Turkey’s biggest biotechnological production facility “AbdiBio” will begin production in 2018.

However, at this point exactly, a classic Turkish reality appears before us: From what we have learned from Barut, we have a considerably insufficient amount of specialists who can work in the field of biotechnology.

Gila Benmayor, hdn, opinion