TBY speaks to Selçuk Tanrıverdi, General Manager at Nobel Almaty Pharmaceutical Factory, on producing in Kazakhstan, the common economic space with Russia and Belarus, and clinical research.

What investment opportunities did Nobel Pharma detect in Kazakhstan when it launched its production facilities?

When we were considering making the investment, we saw that the Kazakhstani pharmaceutical market had significant growth potential. The lack of domestic manufacturers producing high-quality products through high-technology processes, as well as positive government policies in relation to domestic manufacturing, encouraged us to invest locally. We are proud that in this period we have managed to create the most state-of-the-art pharmaceutical facility in Central Asia. The pharmaceutical products produced in Kazakhstan are now being exported to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. In a short period of time we have achieved our objectives, and have been convinced that our investment decision was the right one.

How do you train your staff and ensure the production of high-quality pharmaceuticals?

Our factory was founded using high-tech solutions, and was certified through ISO 9001-2008. Recently we have justified our endeavors with our first Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificate attained in Kazakhstan. This ensures continuous quality control. We are working in constant liaison with the Ministry of Health and are monitoring innovations in our sector. In order to implement innovations and increase performance, periodical training programs are conducted for our technical and sales department employees. We organize these training sessions with the assistance of specialists from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and Europe. These training programs make our teams, composed of medical doctors and pharmacists, more dynamic and efficient. The implementation of training programs constitutes a major investment in human resources. An investment in human resources is an investment in the future.

“The state lends extensive support to domestic manufacturers for the development of the pharmaceutical sector."

What are Nobel Pharma's expectations from the newly created common economic space with Russia and Belarus?

We are monitoring the issues created by the Customs Union. As countries transform into information societies, they are inclined to work together and allow the free movement of money, products, and services. The Customs Union, therefore, is a vital necessity. In addition to exporting to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, we also export to Russia and Belarus. This has been made simpler by the common economic space.

Kazakhstan is a big country with a dispersed population. What strategies are you following to ensure the timely delivery of your products?

We realize that it is very important to deliver medical products to our customers in the shortest possible time. Our products are supplied to distribution companies with branches in various oblasts around Kazakhstan. We constantly monitor stock levels at these branches, and in this way our customers are always able to find what they are looking for.

How can the challenges of the pharmaceuticals sector be turned into investment opportunities?

Before we invested in Kazakhstan, we conducted research and discovered a lack of domestic manufacturers operating with modern technology. We then filled this niche, thus seizing the opportunity to create the best-equipped factory in the region, and produce quality medical products. Moreover, in accordance with our evaluation of the pharmaceuticals market, and by maintaining constant liaisons with medical doctors, we determine market demands and introduce new medical products onto the scene. Determining market demands is not easy—our biggest advantage is that we employ experienced and professional staff.

What is Nobel Pharma's level of involvement with clinical research in the country?

The clinical research of our products is performed by leading medical doctors in the country, under the supervision of the sales department of our company. Clinical research on Immustim, an oncology drug, is in full swing right now. It is vital that we confirm clinically the effectiveness and safety of our products.

What progressive steps are necessary to encourage the development of the pharmaceuticals sector?

The state lends extensive support to domestic manufacturers for the development of the pharmaceutical sector. We are satisfied by the current state of affairs, and are also seriously committed to work in this direction. We are expecting new amendments in customs duties, which will allow us to decrease the cost of our products. This way we will be able to enhance our performance quality and extend the range of our production.

What is your economic outlook for 2012?

Kazakhstan is a very powerful country both in its region and among the countries of the CIS. Currently, very deliberate economic policies are being implemented, and this condition is going to persist into 2012. The current situation gives a sense of security to investors like us. Even during the current global economic crisis, Kazakhstan remains one of the most sustainable countries for investment.

© The Business Year - March 2012