MSD, Sobol tie up to build plant for certain vaccines in KSA |
Saudi Gazette - 01 August, 2012
MSD, a subsidiary of Merck & Co Inc., US, and Sobol Medical Trading Co. Ltd. (Sobol), the leading bio-pharmaceutical company in Saudi Arabia, signed a long-term exclusive agreement, which includes, among others, the establishment of a manufacturing plant for certain types of vaccines and research and development facility at the King Abdul Aziz Medical City, Jeddah, with the aim of transferring technological know-how to qualified Saudis.
Under the agreement, Sobol will be responsible for the distribution and promotion of the three more sophisticated preventive vaccines - Gardasil (human papillomavirus quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) vaccine, Recombinant), Rotateq (Rotavirus Vaccine, Live, Oral, Pentavalent), Pneumovax 23 (pneumococcal vaccine polyvalent) and other MSD vaccines - in the Kingdom, which will eventually be manufactured locally at the MSD-Sobol facility with the involvement of King Abdullah International Medical Research Center.
“Sobol is committed to advancing the health and well-being of the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Prince Majid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, chairman, Sobol, during the signing of agreement last Wednesday in Jeddah.
“Our goal is to increase access to medicines and vaccines and for this, we believe that MSD is the best strategic partner. We share not only common values and standards of quality and ethics but also the desire to support talent, advance drug development and deliver the best solutions for our country and our patients,” he said.
Dr. Nizar Khogeer, Partner and Executive President, Sobol, said: “This agreement is timely and consistent with our company’s growth strategy and will be a big step forward in positioning Sobol as an international leader in biopharmaceuticals. Our mission is to be an active partner in consolidating all partners in the biotechnology sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to achieve economical and social development. We are proud to be part of our country’s initiative.”
He told the Saudi Gazette that the construction of the manufacturing facility will start within three months. He emphasized that the breakthrough in the agreement is the technology transfer to Saudis, noting that there are available local talents to undertake the challenge and the responsibility.
On the selection of vaccines that will be the initial thrust of the facility, Dr. Khogeer said these three types of vaccines were recommended by the World Health Organization to be made available in the Kingdom and later approved by the Ministry of Health, indicating a growing number of patients affected by the diseases.
Dr. Emad Al Sharef, Consultant, Family Medicine and Medical Informatics at the National Guard Hospital, told the Saudi Gazette that the King Abdullah International Medical Research Center will closely collaborate with MSD and Sobol in the project “to recruit highly qualified individuals (Saudis) and ensure the transfer of technology.”
“This collaboration is an exciting opportunity to meet the unmet medical needs of the communities in which we operate and to bring MSD’s vaccines to more people who need them,” said Soren Bo Christiansen, president, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA), MSD. “Our collaboration with a highly respected partner such as Sobol will help expand our presence in Saudi Arabia and provide access to MSD’s leading pharmaceutical innovations to physicians, healthcare providers and patients there. Our novel vaccines are well suited to address the needs of the people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is making impressive investments to improve the health and welfare of its citizens. We are thrilled to be working with Sobol and look forward to a long partnership together.”
“We believe that working with Sobol and the government of Saudi Arabia, MSD can help make a difference in shaping public policies and incentives that will lead to new business opportunities and opportunities in research and development,” said Dr. Wail S. Al-Qasim, Managing Director, MSD Saudi Arabia.
Gardasil vaccine is an important cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer prevention tool that will potentially benefit the health of millions of women. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women, causing an estimated 470,000 new cases and 233,000 deaths per year.
The vaccine is approved for females 9-26 years of age to protect against cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and recommended as a routine 3-dose vaccination series for girls 11 and 12 years of age.
Rotateq vaccine, given orally, is recommended for infants 2, 4, and 6 months of age to prevent rotavirus - a common virus that infects the stomach and intestines causing gastroenteritis or the “stomach flu.” The virus is a major cause of serious diarrhea illness in young children worldwide.
Approximately 1 in 5 cases of all childhood gastroenteritis is caused by rotavirus. Almost all children will be infected at least once before the age of 5 years.
In healthy infants, Rotateq vaccination prevents 74 percent of all infections and 98 percent of severe infections.
Pneumovax 23 (pneumococcal vaccine polyvalent) is a sterile, liquid vaccine for intramuscular or subcutaneous injection that helps protect against invasive diseases such as pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis due to streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The vaccine works by provoking the body’s immune response to the bacteria, without causing the diseases. Pneumovax 23 is approved for use in persons 50 years of age or older and persons aged above 2 years who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease.