PENANG: Asia’s first human insulin plant will be set up in Penang. The RM129.2mil plant is scheduled to start production by mid 2005.
A UK-based bio-generic company, GeneMedix Plc, recently announced in London that it had signed a letter of intent with the Penang Development Corporation to set up a new company for the development, manufacture and commercialisation of human insulin.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said in a statement that GeneMedix’s decision to set up the plant here was a major breakthrough for Malaysia in its initiative to move into biotechnology and biopharmaceutical development and production.
Dr Koh said GeneMedix’s chief executive officer Paul Edwards and its chairman Malaysian-born Dr Kim Tan had visited Penang several times over the past four months to discuss the possibility of setting up the plant here.
“We now have to work hard to ensure that the proper infrastructure, incentives, expertise and human resource are in place for the successful implementation of this world-class project,” he said.
Insulin is an important hormone secreted by pancreas that enables human body cells to absorb glucose from nutrients in the blood. The failure to produce insulin naturally in diabetic conditions require insulin intake.
Modern DNA techniques make possible the cloning and mass reproduction of human insulin through a series of sophisticated biotech processes. The annual human insulin demand exceeds US$5bil (RM19bil).
GeneMedix stated that it would out-licence its existing insulin know-how to the new company in return for an up-front milestone payment and royalty fee payable on sales of bulk product.
GeneMedix, which will retain a majority shareholding in the new company, would also use its expertise to construct a facility built to international quality standards.
Edwards said it has always been the company’s objective to set up an insulin company in South-East Asia to cater to the Asian market where the demand for human insulin is anticipated to increase.
“Penang was chosen over several other sites in Asia because of its good infrastructure, manufacturing base and the support from PDC,” he said.
GeneMedix is a bio-generic company involved in the development and manufacturing of drugs made from genetic engineering.
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