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Japan’s Astellas to Produce 3 Drugs in Iran
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Japan’s Astellas to Produce 3 Drugs in Iran

The Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc. will export technology for production of three widely used medicines by kidney and liver patients, in collaboration with Iranian pharmaceutical companies.
“Astellas is operating in Iran for the past 10 years,” said Marcus Webber, the firm’s general manager for Middle East and Africa (MENA), at the unveiling ceremony of the medications at Parsian Azadi Hotel in Tehran.
“The three medications currently go through primary and secondary packaging processes in Iran after being imported, since the production technology is lacking,” said Mohammad Abdollahi, deputy head of the Food and Drug Administration, IRNA reported.
The Japanese company has promised to export the technical knowhow for producing the drugs within the next 18 months, which will make Iran one of the region’s largest producers and markets for the medicines.
One of the drugs, CellCept, functions similar to an immunosuppressant or medicine that lowers the body’s immune system so that it does not reject an organ transplant. The immune system treats any new organ as an invader.
“CellCept was earlier domestically produced under the license of a foreign company, but was later halted due to technical deficiencies. Now it is imported,” Abdollahi said, adding that certain local companies are producing the generic type which is available in the market.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has adopted a generic-based National Drug Policy (NDP), with domestic production of essential drugs and vaccines as one of the main goals.
“Generic drug production was a necessity in the past, but as of recent years, the ministry is prioritizing production of original brands,” he said.
“The ministry has also adopted the PMS system (post-marketing surveillance of prescription drugs) over the past few years to help promote national healthcare.
The other two drugs include VESIcare, which reduces muscle spasms of the bladder and urinary tract, and Tamsulosin that assists the passage of kidney stones.
An important advantage of foreign firms’ involvement is that they bring technology and expertise to the local pharmaceutical industry, Abdollahi said.
“Once the new drugs are produced domestically, the price will fall by half,” he noted.
Prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is high among people aged 20 years and above among Iran’s urban population. About 27% of the afflicted are not even aware, while renal diseases cut 1.1 million years lives annually.
One of Astellas products Prograf is used by 90% of kidney transplant patients and almost all liver transplant patients, and will be produced in Iran to meet the domestic demand within the next 18 months.

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