Malta and the pharmaceutical industry
A little while ago, the Ministry for Economic Services
established contact with a number of Maltese living overseas who have
made a name for themselves in various lines of business activity. We
have sought to tap their expertise by asking them to sit on an Advisory
Council that provides strategic advice to the Malta Enterprise Board.
This council has specifically identified the pharmaceutical sector as
having particular potential for Malta, to the extent that they have
recommended that we should actively promote Malta as an excellent location
where such companies should consider locating some of their activities.
This is what we have started to do, with some very encouraging results
Just last week, I chaired a press briefing that provided details about
a new pharmaceutical company, namely Arrow Pharm Malta Limited that
is due to start regular production in June, this year. This venture
represents a significant, additional foreign direct investment in Malta,
more specifically in the production of generic drugs.
The MDC has allocated to Arrow Pharma Malta Ltd a large factory at Hal
Far, which they are now in the process of adapting and customising to
their requirements. Their investment is expected to exceed Lm3 million.
The refurbishment and customisation of the Hal Far factory is due to
be completed by the end of April 2003, to be followed immediately by
the installation and commissioning of the relevant machinery and related
equipment. Trial production will commence in May, which will allow the
certification of the production facilities to be carried out before
June 2003, when regular production will commence.
The company has already recruited locally a Quality Assurance Manager
and a Plant Engineer, who have been sent overseas for specialised training.
Recruitment of additional personnel will commence shortly. It is expected
that the company will provide employment for about 40 personnel by the
end of this year and for around 200 persons, in total, within 5 years.
Many of these will undoubtedly be qualified pharmacists.
In the meantime, another pharmaceutical company that will also be producing
generic drugs, namely Star Pharma, has similarly been allocated a factory
at Hal Far and is also due to start production very soon. At this point
in time, Star Pharma has already recruited some local staff and is currently
engaged in various pre-production activities, in preparation for the
certification of its facilities.
Pharmamed itself, which has been present in Malta for many years, is
now experiencing a veritable resurgence and transformation. Over a year
ago, this company was taken over by the Icelandic firm Delta Ltd., which
has itself been bought by another Icelandic company, Pharmaco. As a
result of this take over, Pharmamed are currently upgrading their production
facilities with the objective of producing many additional generic drugs,
primarily for the European market. At the same time, the parent company
has been allocated another premises, also at Bulebel, where it has opened
research and development facilities. This augurs well for the future
since it shows Maltas potential, not only as a prime site for
pharmaceutical manufacturing activity, but also as an attractive location
for research activity.
There is another significant pharmaceutical presence in Malta, which
I have not yet mentioned. This is Amino Chemicals. Which prompts me
to bid a warm welcome to the Research and Development Director of Amino
Chemicals in Malta and of Dipharma in Milan, namely Dr. Graziano Castaldi.
I have been told that he will be speaking, in this symposium, on the
importance of active ingredients in the pharmaceutical industry.
I have also been informed about an encouraging number of student projects,
in the pipeline, that are directly connected to the pharmaceutical industry.
Some of these projects are actually being carried-out in direct collaboration
with the industry, such as in the case of Pharmamed. I cannot but encourage
more of this kind of collaboration. This is certainly a beneficial development,
to the students but also to the industry and to the university. Such
projects show that our University is truly and effectively in touch
with industry in Malta. Hence the very apt title chosen for your symposium
this year: Tomorrows pharmacist - a true practice-oriented professional.
It is a very positive development indeed that our educational institutions
are increasingly seeking to provide the necessary technical support
to companies operating from Malta. Having attracted these companies
to Malta and having provided them with the necessary trained personnel,
not in the least qualified pharmacists like your selves, we all now
need to ensure that we sustain our competitive edge and build upon our
Government in general, and the Ministry for Economic Services in particular,
are fully committed towards achieving this objective. We firmly believe
that Maltas potential to attract foreign direct investment will
be significantly enhanced through Maltas imminent EU membership.
New opportunities will be created that Malta must be ready to tap. Hence
our decision to establish Malta Enterprise that will be taking over
the functions of the MDC, METCO and IPSE with the objective of delivering
a more comprehensive, better integrated and more effective support service
to industry in Malta. Many have identified the benefits from of a one-stop-shop
approach to industrial promotion and support services. Malta Enterprise
promises to achieve that and much more.
Our objective is to secure an excellent future for those companies that
have already chosen to locate in Malta as well as to attract even more
pharmaceutical companies to our shores. Thereby providing significant
additional employment opportunities, particularly so for you pharmacists.
Which brings me to yet another area that should be of great interest
to you and which is also closely linked to my ministry. This is the
National Laboratory, which has now been relocated inside new and large
premises at the San Gwann Industrial Estate. This company is now catering
for several different aspects of laboratory work including forensic
analysis. This company already provides a number of openings for pharmacists
and the opportunities will increase in the future. A significant amount
of equipment at this Laboratory was obtained through EU funds, equipment
that would have been prohibitively expensive to acquire, if we had been
obliged to rely merely on our own funds. In addition the Laboratory
has benefited also from opportunities for further training under EU
funded programmes. This laboratory is also bound to expand significantly,
once we join the European Union.
The opportunities are definitely there. It is up to us to make the most
of them. We have worked hard to bring about the required upgrading within
our industry and we have established the necessary support mechanisms
to enable us to look with optimism at the changes ahead of us. These
are opportunities that will promote better jobs, better conditions of
work and better standards including the production of products (in this
case medicines), of the highest quality for our own use and for the
use of all others.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all those students who will be
presenting their projects tomorrow and on Friday. I hope that my short
speech will have helped to assure them that there are great openings
awaiting them not, only in the traditional hospital and community services
but also additional openings in the manufacturing sector. Openings that
are the result of a conscious strategy to attract higher value added
industry to Malta. A strategy that is already delivering tangible results
and which will be significantly enhanced once Malta secures its rightful
place within Europe.