Cuba creates biotech−pharma combine

Havana, Nov 29 (IANS/EFE) Cuba's government has created a new business group comprising 38 companies involved in the manufacture and sale of medicine and provision of services in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

The new group will operate under the name BioCubaFarma and "will be guided by business principles", an official statement said.

It was created "by merging entities belonging to the Scientific Pole and the QUIMEFA Business Group with a mission to manufacture medicine and equipment (and provide) hi−tech services", the statement added.

Production will be aimed at "improving people's health and generating exportable goods and services" through "scientific and technical development" on the island.

The Council of Ministers named Carlos Manuel Gutierrez Calzado, previously the director of the National Scientific Research Center, as president of BioCubaFarma.

Jose Miyar Barruecos, who had been the head of the Scientific Pole, will "now fulfill other duties directly with (President Raul Castro)".

The government said the newly created group is part of reforms being carried out to "update" Cuba's socialist model.

Those reforms also include broadening the scope for private business and plans to lay off 500,000 state employees through 2015.

The reform guidelines approved by Cuba's Communist Party in 2011 underscore the goals of consolidating the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry "as one of the (island's) most exportable activities" and "introducing new products into the domestic market to substitute imports".

−−IANS/EFE

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