The Concept of development of the pharmaceutical industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2020-2024, adopted two years ago, is aimed at organizing stable activities of the pharmaceutical industry, ensuring a high level of quality and effectiveness of pharmacotherapy and prevention of diseases of the population, which, ultimately, should contribute to increasing the duration and improving the quality of human life.
The issue of journal dedicated to the development of domestic pharmaceuticals opens with an interview with our guest, Director of the Agency for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry under the Ministry of Health of Republic of Uzbekistan Sardor KARIEV, who answered a number of key questions in the context of concern for the well-being and health of the population, especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Sardor Hikmatovich, what assessment could you give to the state of development of the pharmaceutical industry today? To what extent this sphere is developed, for example, in comparison with other CIS countries.
– Over the past few years, the pharmaceutical industry of Uzbekistan has demonstrated excellent growth dynamics. For example, five years ago there were 80-90 pharmaceutical enterprises in the country, mainly producing medical devices and equipment. Nowadays, their number is about 200. The industry is moving forward every day, the range of manufactured medicines and medical products is expanding.
It is important to emphasize that the country’s leadership pays great attention to the improvement of national pharmaceuticals. There have been adopted a lot of presidential decrees of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, aimed in establishing favorable conditions for its development. Within the framework of these documents, a number of free economic zones specialized in pharmaceuticals have been created and are functioning – «Nukus-farm», «Kosonsoy-farm», «Sirdaryo-farm», «Bustonlik-farm», «Parkent-farm». Today it is a reliable infrastructure formed to saturate the domestic market with high-quality medicines of local production.
If we compare the dynamics of the development of the industry with similar areas of the CIS countries, we can confidently say that we are ranked among the top three in this direction. For example, last year during the pandemic, Uzbekistan was able to provide the necessary pharmaceutical products not only to the domestic market, but also exported to Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Afghanistan.
As a result, there is no shortage of medicines at this time. The only thing I would like to note is that last year there was a panic about the «advertised» antiviral drugs, which many believed to help against the coronavirus, and the demand for these imported drugs was very high.
I will give more examples. In 2020, the quantity of import of medicines in Kazakhstan amounted to $ 1.2 billion. And here, in Uzbekistan, this figure was equal to $ 1.15 billion. And this is taking into account the fact that in neighboring Kazakhstan the population is 18 million people, and our population has reached the 35 million.
We have set up the production of a large range of medicines in our market, only those items that are not produced at all or are produced under other trademarks in insufficient quantities, and their prices are slightly higher.
– Today, it is more important than ever to ensure the production of safe, effective, affordable and high-quality domestic medicines and medical devices within the country. What has changed in domestic pharmaceutical production for some time past?
– We have mastered the production of chemical synthesis preparations, i.e. simple generics – medicines containing an active pharmaceutical ingredient identical to that patented by the company that originally developed the medicine.
The appropriate infrastructure has already been created, personnel have been trained, so it is possible to master the production of many drugs in the shortest possible time. For example, during the global coronavirus pandemic, Uzbekistan was the first among the CIS countries to master the production of drugs against COVID-19, thanks to the presence of developed infrastructure and well-trained personnel who successfully cope with the development of generics of similar drugs.
However, it should be noted with great regret that we have not developed such a direction as biotechnology. For many years, this sphere remained in the background. A well-known research institute of serums and vaccines actively operating in Uzbekistan, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was not given enough attention, and this «small island» of biotechnology development disappeared. In other scientific institutes, the departments train a limited number of biotechnologists. Yes, they are, but they are engaged in science mainly in laboratory conditions. Now we are focused on the development of this particular sphere.
It is developing very dynamically in many countries of the world – Japan, Korea, the USA, Russia and the EU states. I believe that the future of pharmacology, in fact, belongs to biotechnological drugs. The application of these technologies in therapeutic medicine and the development of completely new drugs is one of the main handlers of today’s global pharmaceutical industry. If you look at the history of pharmaceuticals, they were initially treated with medicinal herbs, then extracts began to be extracted from them, and in the XIX-XX centuries, thanks to chemical synthesis, the necessary molecules were isolated, which are still used for treatment today.
Modern biotechnology used in medicine uses methods of influencing the pathological process at the level of molecules and genes. It has two main goals: the analysis of the disease at the molecular level and the production of drugs based on the genetic modifications of microorganisms and body cells.
Today, with the advent of biotechnology, we can safely say that modern medicine is literally on the verge of a real revolution, which consists in the fact that the patient can receive personalized therapy, simulated for a specific clinical situation. Biotechnology in its current stage of development focuses on diseases for which there are currently no adequate methods of effective therapy.
At the same time, we are talking about diseases that appear with age, including malignant neoplasms, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In addition, biotechnology offers effective therapeutic solutions in the treatment of hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and orphan diseases.
I will reword again, we, as the Agency for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry, prioritize the development of this kind of production. Up to date, the number of domestic manufacturers has reached 220. 102 of these produce medicines, 30 – medical equipment, 80 – medical products, another 8 – medicines and medical products.
Enterprises are engaged in the production of various medicines, ranging from medicinal herbs to drugs with a complex composition, many of them are the product of chemistry. Today, the development and introduction of biotechnologies are identified as key direction of innovative development of the domestic economy.
Last year, with the support of the head of state, we came up with the initiative to establish a new pharmaceutical cluster, that is, to concentrate in one territory science, education, laboratories and production. Conducting clinical and preclinical trials – everything will be carried out in one place. It is planned to organize together with our foreign partners a new pharmaceutical university, where with research institutes we will train personnel in direct interaction.
As for current days, the Agency has three research institutes: the Uzbek Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research Institute, the Tashkent Research Institute of Vaccines and Serums and the Research Institute «Oriental Medicine». Unfortunately, in a certain period these institutions were left without due attention and are now in a decayed state. They need to be resuscitated, equipped and transferred to the territory of the created cluster, so that education, science and production coexist inextricably, together.
Furthermore, it is planned to create modern quality control laboratories on the territory of the cluster. Currently, drugs that are manufactured in Uzbekistan or imported are undergoing thorough laboratory control at the State Center for Expertise and Standardization of Medicines, Medical Devices and Medical Equipment.
It is planned that in the near future this Center and laboratory will also be located on the territory of the cluster. Thus, both scientists and students will have the opportunity to use this infrastructure that meets modern requirements. This is important both for the development of science, for the expansion of production, and for the formation of a new generation of research scientists and pharmaceutical practitioners with relevant knowledge and skills in this sphere.
Based on these goals, all three most important components – science, laboratory and production – will be connected together. The cluster will be located near Tashkent on the territory of 50-60 hectares, in the Zangiata district. The territory of the technopark will be divided into sectors of academic, scientific activity and the development of medicines for clinical and preclinical treatment.
Consequently, the scientific and production pharmaceutical cluster «Tashkent Pharma Park» will be a group of geographically localized interrelated innovative drug development firms, manufacturing companies; suppliers of equipment, components, specialized services; infrastructure facilities: research institutes, universities, technology parks, business incubators and other organizations that complement each other and strengthen the competitive advantages of individual companies, and the cluster as a whole.
The project provides for the creation of a single ecosystem where all areas of the pharmaceutical industry will be involved, including training of specialists, additional education and advanced training of scientific, pedagogical and scientific personnel, scientific and experimental lines, as well as a base for the enhanced development of the research potential of the entire pharmaceutical industry.
– On an annual basis, the domestic pharmaceutical market shows the dynamics of growth in the development of new types of products. However, many enterprises in the industry are limited to the production of medicines with a simple formula. What kind of work is being done to stimulate the pharmaceutical industry?