Dr. Haleh Hamedifar is the Chairman of CinnaGen Co. for biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research and member of the board of directors at the Syndicate of Iranian Pharmaceutical Industries. Here is an interview with her on Iran Pharma:
- How do you think holding international exhibitions like Iran pharma can contribute to the expansion of exports in the field of health?
None of the pharmaceutical or health exhibitions that are held in the country has the industrial support that Iran Pharma has. The diversity and versatility that the pharmaceutical companies give to Iran Pharma Exhibition is by no means comparable to that of the other exhibitions.
Even exhibitions that are held in Turkey or UAE, their infrastructures and pharmaceutical industries are incomparable to Iran pharma. On the other hand, in conditions where international collaborations are expanding and the world is evaluating Iran's assets, Iran Pharma Exhibition is a great opportunity for displaying the country's pharmaceutical potentials. But I believe that any process, including this exhibition, is in need of maturation so that it can be registered in the country's calendar, like CPhI and be registered in the global calendar of all countries.
It should be noted that holding exhibitions like this or any conference or meeting with foreign investors is only beneficiary when we know exactly what we want, what are the national interests and clearly define what we want to achieve and outline our interests like the other sides of the meeting and negotiate on those terms.
Today, the war is between markets. Presence of convoys from Germany, France and Russia in our country is definitely for reaching to bigger markets and each of these countries have set goals for their presence in Iran and it is necessary that we would develop our own plan and leave our passive position so that we can understand what we want to achieve in exchange for losing this market.
- What do you think is the most important challenge facing drug exportation in our country?
With attention to the existing potential, our country's pharmaceutical industry has control over weak markets and there is no market that is a real exportation market in the true sense of the word. Therefore, the need for exportations is sensed more than before. Unfortunately, in contradiction with developed countries of the world, Iran's major share of export and revenue is limited to oil. The oil status, however, in the world is very different from what it was; and today's conditions have proven that dependency to oil and oil revenue cannot be considered as a sustainable strategy.
Although the lifting of sanctions and the post-JCPOA era are favorable conditions for expanding the target markets, alongside these very opportunities, there lie threats too. These threats are especially directed toward companies that were not able to improve their quality in the past and now, their final price is not able to compete with similar imported products. On the other hand, there are companies that have products that are unique in the region or even the world and the post-JCPOA era is an opportunity for showcasing these products to the competitive markets all over the world. Unfortunately, in the time of the sanctions, because of the problems, financial connection was not possible and this led the exportation to face several problems. But now, there is a possibility to establish financial connection and consequently, exporting knowledge-based products. According to statistics from the year starting from winter 2013 to fall 2014, our pharmaceutical exportations market, although very high in potentials, was able to account for only 180 million dollars of the country's income and the major portion of these exports were to Afghanistan, middle Asia and Syria. Regarding the exportation of knowledge-based productions it is sufficient to say that exporting this type of pharmaceuticals can only lead to an export rate of 20 to 30 million dollars market in the first year.
- What are the most important guidelines for self-sufficiency in pharmaceuticals?
I am convinced that a country must be self-reliant first, rather than self-sufficient in manufacturing pharmaceuticals. The expansiveness of the connection between different countries have led the world to the point where almost no country is completely self-sufficient in the factual sense of the word. Even major industrial countries such as the United States and China are depending on imports in certain consumable products. The important principle is to keep the positive balance so that the pharmaceutical industry does not face problems whenever there are minor economic and political changes. For instance, we will reach health security only when we can localize technical knowledge and have products that are compatible with the localized technical knowledge in the country.
We remember 2014 when almost all the drugs in the pharmaceutical market except for some drugs for special diseases faced shortages or were not available due to the sudden sanctions imposed on banks. Therefore, as our pharmaceutical industry moves increasingly toward technology and technical knowledge, we will undoubtedly reach self-reliance and one of the main points of the resistive economy will be actualized. As much as we work toward establishing the cycle of conveying knowledge and obtaining it, we will both reach self-reliance and also provide more and more value added.