* DOPHA to produce 150 medicines in the first phase, and 300 in the secondphase
* Looking for exporting by 2024, but currently we are focusing on local growth: Ahmad Al Jufairi
Doha Pharmaceutical Industries (DOPHA),a Qatar-based pharmaceutical company, located in the New Industrial Area, is expected to start its production by mid-2021.
The factory, which is nearing its completion, will be the first of its kind in Qatar, producing affordable generic medicines for the local and international market. The drugs will have the same intended use, effects and route of administration as of their brand-name counterparts.
Construction of the facility began in September 2018 with the European technology, making sure global regulatory standards followed in each step.
The brain behind this ambitious project is Mr. Ahmad Al Jufairi, who is the owner and chairman of the Board of Directors of Doha Pharmaceutical Industries. In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times Mr. Ahmad shared his vision and the future plans of the company.
“We are just a few steps away from achieving our goal, and we already have a line-up of international pharmaceutical companies willing to sign partnership agreements with us, namely from South Korea, UK and India. This project will go a long way in helping the local and regional pharmaceutical industry by providing affordable medicines,” says Mr. Ahmad.
“We are receiving tremendous support from the Hamad Medical Corporation and the Ministry of Health and for now our focus is on the Qatari market, though the company aims to start exporting by 2024.”
DOPHA aims to produce medicines targeting chronic conditions common in the region including cardiovascular diseases, psychiatric and neurological disorders, gastroenterological diseases, metabolic disorders such as hyperlipidemia and diabetes, central nervous system diseases, bacterial and viral infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses, asthma and allergies, bone and joint inflammation disorders and urological diseases.
“We will have over 150 medicines in the first phase of production, and the number will go up to 300 as the secondphase begins,” Mr. Ahmad revealed.
“Currently we have to depend on other countries for medicines and it brings heavy financial burden on our government as we offer humanitarian support to people in places like Palestine and other African nations. When DOPHA starts production, we will be able to supply medicine directly to the government and it will relieve some of that burden.”
“Our main target remains local hospitals and healthcare centresand we are in talks with the Ministry of Health regarding it. They expressed lots of enthusiasm and want to expedite the work so as to start the production soon.”
Safety top priority
“The factory has a current annual capacity of over 200 million tablet and capsule dosage forms, which will increase in the next three to five years to over 800 million. We are ready to work with partners who have excellent track record in this field. Our main priority is safety and reliability of our medicine. We are well aware that any misstep from our side will badly damage our reputation and so our partners must be top-tanking medical brands that follow international norms and regulations,” Mr. Ahmad stressed.
“When it comes to purchasing raw materials for our factory from outside, we always insist on quality. We can’t compromise on it for financial gain. Currently we have a deal with South Korean manufactures as they have great product lines with FDA approval that suit our safety and quality standards. All the more, their research facilities are world-class and recommend by others globally. Of course we will have our own Qatari inspections regarding safety standards before we start producing any medicine.”
“We realize the need to expand our business in the future and we are already in talks with some countries in this matter. For example, we are in the early stages of talks with the stakeholders in Kazakhstan and Argentina where land can be purchased for the project.We aim to make our medications available in Africa and Asia with the help of the Qatari government.”
“The first phase of the production is very important for us and it is expected to cost anything between QR 200 and 250 million depending on the machinery and other charges. We hope to become fully operational within next three years.”
Giving back to the society
Mr. Ahmad feels that this new venture will have a positive impact on the ongoing self-sustainability efforts of the Qatari government that started soon after the blockade.
“We are very proud of the high quality health services available at the Hamad Medical Corporation where the government purchases expensive medicines and equipment from abroad and provides free medical care to the patients. As we start our production, it can be of a great support to the government as most of the medicines will be produced locally with high safety standards in line with Qatar’s medical guidelines, yet in affordable prices. In a way it would be a service to the nation and the government that supported us all along in this venture,” Mr. Ahmad concludes.