Russia: The Rise (and Fall) of Healthcare - Pharmaceutical Executive


Russia: The Rise (and Fall) of Healthcare

Pharmaceutical Executive

This capacity has its roots in Pharm Sintez's precursor company, a small group of professional chemists who created the drug form of buseriline acetate. After this form was on the market, "Pharm Sintez became one of only five or six companies in the world to possess depot form technology," says Mikhaylov. "Our competitive advantage in Russia is our exclusive technology to create difficult first-generation generics," he adds.

"We also think about going beyond Russia's border with original products," says Mikhaylov. "This is why we conduct clinical trials in our research programs. We have two original products in the last stages of registration, and I think within one or two years, we will make it happen. In less than five years, our research programs will be good enough to allow us to produce original drugs."

Strong Heritage

Anton Katlinsky, CEO, Microgen
While history books of the 19th and early 20th centuries serve as proof of the Russian of discovery, chemistry, and science in general, following the fall of the Soviet Union , multinational companies managed to extract almost all discoveries of worth as well as the great minds behind them. Little advance research remains.

Today, only a few Russian companies have built on a good science base to emerge as niche producers of modern generics and innovative drugs. Nowadays, successful innovation in Russian terms refers to registering first-generation generics. However, there are some instances of world-leading innovation. Microgen, the largest pharmaceutical holding - public or private – in Russia , holds strategic importance under the Ministry of Health."

This federal state scientific-industrial company was established in 2003 as an integration of 14 state unitary enterprises that employ 7,500 people throughout Russia and produces the whole spectrum of vital immunobiological medicines: vaccines for dangerous infectious diseases and flu vaccines. Microgen produces more than 70% of the total Russian volume in this field and the company made global headlines last year with its breakthrough vaccine for avian flu in humans.

One reason for this level of competence may be that under the Warsaw Pact, research related to biotechnology and immunology was centered in the Soviet Union. Anton Katlinsky, former deputy minister of public health and current CEO of Microgen, adds: "Despite the fact that a lot of our specialists moved abroad, our potential in these fields and the fight against infectious disease is still considerable. Russia is one of the top-five countries worldwide for possessing staff potential with the ability to efficiently promote, research, and develop biotechnology efforts." Through an investment of more than $25 million, the company has prevented the disappearance of domestic production of immunobiological medicines.

While its focus on serving the national interest is apparent, Microgen is also clearly seeking global success. In November 2006, Microgen received a delegation from the WHO that confirmed the high quality of the results obtained by Russia's vaccine for avian flu in humans. "The WHO experts recognized that this development is one of the leading substances in Europe, so I expect the drug to be certified this year," says Katlinsky. "Our chances are not bad to take the leading position in the production of medicines of biotechnological profile, especially drugs to combat infectious diseases."

An Egg-Free Technology

Microgen is now out to show that it is not a "one-hit wonder." The company is focused on developing vaccines against standard flu based on a new Microgen invention: egg-free technology. "It's a tissue-culture flu vaccine based strictly on mammalian cell production technology," says Katlinsky. "In a situation when we would confront a pandemic outbreak of avian flu, that would probably affect chickens as well. So in the production of vaccines against flu, including bird flu, the use of chicken embryos would be impossible."


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