A STRATEGIC R&D CENTER
As part of the country's 2023 vision, positioning the country as a hub for R&D, production, and operations in the pharmaceutical
industry is a central part of the government's strategy. In this context, the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology
has prepared a "Draft Strategy Document for the Pharmaceuticals Industry," which covers 2011-2015 and includes objectives
and action items to encourage R&D investment in the country.
Dr lIker Özbay, general manager of Daiichi Sankyo Turkey
The government seems to be making a concerted effort to reach out to the pharmaceutical industry. Last June, Turkey participated
in the 2012 BIO Convention, one of the world's largest biotechnology platforms, for the first time with a ministry-led delegation,
including His Excellency Nihat Ergün, minister of Science, Industry and Technology. His message to the pharmaceutical industry
"Turkey can provide substantial competitive advantage for R&D and production investments of innovative pharmaceutical industry,"
Ergün said during a speech at the convention held in Boston. So far, some concrete advantages offered by the government include
income tax exemptions, grants, deductions for R&D enterprises employing at least 50 people, and other incentives.
Industry leaders are convinced of Turkey's potential. Hervé Dussart, president of AstraZeneca, agrees, "What happens today
in Turkey? A few companies have moved their regional headquarters in Istanbul. But what will bring revenue is R&D, and manufacturing,
and probably the right combination of both."
The Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) also sees great potential in the pharmaceutical R&D sector.
Ilker Ayci, association president, said, "ISPAT is in accord with the pharma industry's view that Turkey has all the qualification
to be an R&D and manufacturing center for biotechnology and biosimilar products as well as a hub for pharmaceutical innovation
and development with its highly qualified workforce, attractive regulatory environment and incentive structures."
"In this regard, ISPAT's promotion and support activities focus to improve pharmaceutical industry's international competitiveness,
and position the Turkish pharma industry, as one of the global R&D and production hubs, a net exporter and a regional management
center," Ayci explained.
Mehmet Yusuf, founder of Altis CRO, one of the pioneering clinical research organizations in Turkey, is confident in the evolution
of Turkey's R&D environment and is optimistic for his company's development.
Mehmet Yusuf, managing director of Altis Medical Research Turkey
"Turkey boasts an immense number of (hospital) beds, as well as an equally large number of people treated for various kinds
of diseases. The annual turnover of patients visiting hospitals is also great, at about 80 million; exceeding the size of
the population. Moreover, the number of potential researchers for clinical trials is also significant. This includes doctors
in universities, teaching hospitals and people in specialty training. This leaves you with a massive pool of talent and patients
for this sector which is already a very powerful argument," said Yusuf.
Beyond the favorable infrastructure, the clinical trials legislation in Turkey is in full compliance with international standards.
Not only did the country have its own high standards of clinical trial regulation since the early 1990s, but it has also adopted
the EU directive on implementing the Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines in 2009.
An important consideration for multinational companies, which are also recognizing the country's potential to become an R&D
center. Avşar Tuna of Novo Nordisk said, "We are proud to support R&D and innovation in Turkey. Together with leading Turkish
doctors, we currently run numerous clinical trials in Turkey and in 2011 entered into a long-term partnership with Kocaeli
University to support break-through basic research projects and foster international knowledge-sharing."
Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical company, has also invested in Turkey as an R&D hub. Marco Caligiuri, country manager,
said, "We have initiated since 2008 an important clinical program, with both company-driven and investigator-initiated clinical
trials, investing in it more than 30 percent of our revenue 2008 and 2011."
Marco Caligiuri, general manager of Celgene Turkey
"In fact, we have involved in our clinical program hundreds of Turkish patients, not only in haematological malignancies with
lenalidomide and azacitidine, but also in immuno-inflammatory diseases, such as Behcet's syndrome with apremilast, a TNF-alpha
inhibitor. This trial can represent an important example of our R&D commitment in Turkey, considering that here we can find
the highest prevalence in the world, and more than 80 percent of patients enrolled in this international trial are Turkish,"
Merck Serono: All About Location
Servier is also committed to investing in R&D in the country. Accolas said, "Overall Servier is investing TRY 7 million (USD
3.8 million) each year in Turkey, including research. We work with numerous Turkish scientific societies and universities.
Depending on which research program we want to run and in which specific field, we look for the most adapted partnership."