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Health Care Sector

The Pharmaceutical Industry in Cuba


Despite the economic consequences of over 50 years of the U.S. Embargo, Cuba has been able to create a strong medical research and biotechnology industry. One of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the Caribbean, research by the pharmaceutical industry in Cuba has focused on the manufacture and development of generic medicines and vaccines.

The Chemical Pharmaceutical Business Group (QUIMEFA) was formed by the Ministry of Basic Industry (MINBAS) to increase Cuba’s pharmaceutical research and production. Cuba invests in its pharmaceutical and health care sectors to bolster its pharmaceutical industry in the research and production of biotechnology products, generics and alternative medicines.

With the potential lifting of the US embargo there can only be positive results for both nations. Many foreign pharmaceutical companies will welcome the new opportunities with Cuban pharmaceutical companies. US companies will be able to actively develop business relations with Cuban medical research institutions and pharmaceutical companies.

Drugs, medical devices and radiology products which Cuba now purchases from foreign markets located far from her shores will be sourced from the most logical trading partner (because of distance), the US. Other benefits will include an exchange of medical and pharmaceutical research, bolstering health care knowledge, research and treatments for citizens of both nations. US companies would be able to access the Cuban pharmaceutical market which would reduce both development and production costs. There can be no doubt, the 50 year embargo signifies an incredible loss of opportunity for both Cuba and the US pharmaceutical industries and the people of both countries.

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Listed below are some of the recent achievements of the pharmaceutical industry in Cuba:

Anti-cancer Vaccines:

CIMAVAX-EGF, an oncology vaccine was developed in Cuba for small cell lung cancer. Clinical trials are underway in Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and China.

Racotumomab is another anti-cancer vaccine. Both the CIMAVAX-EGF and the Racotumomab vaccines reduce the size of tumors and improve life expectancy.

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Vidatox made by the Cuban pharmaceutical company Labiofam is a cancer natural treatment made from the venom of blue scorpion, found only in Cuba. Currently joint ventures with Canada and China are underway.

Theraloc (nimotuzumab), another treatment for lung cancer and gastric cancer, was developed by CIMAB a research company in Cuba. India, Japan, China, some countries in Latin America and Eastern Europe have already approved this drug for the treatment of oesophageal cancer, glioma, neck and head cancer.

Heberprot-P Cardiovascular DFU used for (diabetic foot ulcer) produced by Cuba’s Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). It is now awaiting approvals in Europe and Latin America. At the current time, Heberprot-P is available in Turkey and is patented in 18 other countries.

Cholera and pneumococcal vaccines have been researched and developed by the Cuban firm BioCubaFarma.

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Meningitis-B vaccine developed by Cuba’s Molecular Immunology Center.

BIOCEN a pharmaceutical company in Bejucal, Mayabeque has developed a Hepatitis-B vaccine. It is currently undergoing trials in Cuba and Asia in partnership with Abivax, a French corporation.

Histotherapy Center of Havana has been actively researching and producing drugs and cosmetics made from human placenta in the treatment of auto immune diseases such as vitiligo, psoriasis and alopecia.

Necessitated by the US embargo and with its aim to provide all citizens with free health care, the pharmaceutical industry in Cuba has benefited from years of government support for research and development. Lifting the embargo will only benefit not only Cuba and the US but health care around the world.

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