Neopharma’s pharmaceutical facility is located in the Mussafah industrial suburb in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Credit: subhashnayak7 / Shutterstock.
The partnership between GSK and Neopharma produced 35,000 packages of medicines in the first batch. Credit: Neopharma.
Neopharma has an independent production block to manufacture beta lactam products in capsules, tablets and liquid formulations. Credit: subhashnayak7 / Shutterstock.

Neopharma opened a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), in July 2003. The facility was developed in partnership with ZonesCorp, a major provider of purpose-built economic zones in the UAE.

In 2004, the plant was awarded the Specialist Award in Pharma by the Arab Health ME for having the best pharmaceutical facility in the Middle East. The plant was also awarded the 2006 Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award for its pioneering initiatives in manufacturing.

Development details of Neopharma’s manufacturing plant

The state-of-the-art facility was built within a 12.5-acre site in the Mussafah industrial suburb, with planning aid from the General Industries Corporation and administrators of the Mussafah Industrial Park.

Designed and constructed on a modular concept, the facility was built on a 100,000m2 land area encompassing two independent production blocks. General products are manufactured in one block, while the other block serves as an exclusive centre for manufacturing beta-lactam products. The plant is designed to produce tablets, capsules, and liquid orals on a large scale.

The plant has separate buildings for antibiotics production, research and development, testing labs, and units for formulation and quality control and quality assurance (QC/QA).

Financial backing and contractors for the plant

The Neopharma production plant’s development was proposed by the New Medical Centre Group (NMC) and financed through a 60:40 debt-equity combination, with the debt portion underwritten by the Bank of Baroda in India. Ranbaxy and Pfizer provided knowledge, technology, and training in exchange for the use of a portion of the manufacturing capacity.

Ranbaxy licensed the manufacture of cephalosporins at the plant in a custom-built antibiotic manufacturing module.

Production capacity at Neopharma’s Abu Dhabi plant

The plant’s first phase came into full production in November 2003. The total investment in the first phase amounted to AED95m ($25.8m).

Neopharma was established by the UAE’s New Medical Centre Group in collaboration with Ranbaxy Global and Pfizer.

The production targets for the first year were 180 million tablets, 45 million units of antibiotics, 30 million capsules and nine million liquid oral doses for 45 different medicines.

In 2005, Neopharma expanded its product range to include five new products. These were Neoclav (amoxicillin and clavulanic acid), Neosorbide (isosorbide mononitrate for the treatment of angina, including sustained release variations), Neogastro, Neogastro Plus, and Neosolvon (for respiratory disorders). In 2006, the company increased its product range again with more antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, doxycyclin, amoxyclav, ceruroxime axetil) and a sustained-release version of the important anti-diabetic drug metformin.

Neopharma broke ground for a large-scale expansion in October 2009. The expansion facilitated the production of more than 300 varieties of drugs and allowed the company to establish a range of over-the-counter medicines of its own brand and nutraceuticals in the UAE.

Neopharma’s current product range includes anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and arthritis medication, cardiovascular, anti-diabetic, gastrointestinal formulas, respiratory system drugs, cough mixtures, and multivitamins.

Manufacturing and collaboration between Neopharma, Ranbaxy and Dr Reddy’s

Ranbaxy signed an agreement with Neopharma to allow the manufacture of two cephalosporins at the custom-built module solely set aside for the manufacture of cephalosporins and other beta lactam products.

The antibiotics unit conforms to all international standards stipulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European regulatory authorities. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, another India-based company, is also involved in technical collaboration with Neopharma for some of their manufacturing processes.

Dr Reddy’s suggested carrying out some formulation and finishing at the Neopharma facility following initial active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production at their FDA-approved plant in India, as well as carrying out comprehensive formulation, finishing and packaging for a large portfolio of drugs and medicines.

Contractors involved in the project

The manufacturing facility’s construction was carried out by Amana Steel Building Contractor (main contractor) and Dastur Consultants (architecture, design and engineering).

German pharmaceutical manufacturer DIOSNA supplied its P150 and P300 high-shear mixers for the project.

The Neopharma production plant was developed by New Medical Centre Group (NMC), which has since opened a further two hospitals in the UAE.

Marketing commentary on Neopharma

Neopharma manufactures and commercialise more than 100 molecules in 50 countries. The company currently has five globally accredited pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities across three continents.

Products manufactured annually by Neopharma include 3.6 million infusions, more than five billion tablets and capsules, 36 million ampoules, 7.5 million oral syrups and suspension, and 27 million sachets. The company provides innovators with new chemical entities (NCEs), current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) intermediates, and key starting materials (KSMs).

The Abu Dhabi facility’s therapy portfolio includes antipyretics, anti-virals, immunosuppressants, analgesics, antihistamines, CNS, and urology It holds ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 180001 certifications.

In March 2018, Neopharma received GMP certification from the National Authority of Medicines and Health Products (Infarmed) of Portugal after the Abu Dhabi facility was inspected in accordance with European Union (EU) GMP standards. In April 2019, Neopharma partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to enable localisation in the UAE. The company is responsible for the secondary packaging process for six of GSK’s prescribed medicines in the country. The partnership produced and launched the first batch of locally manufactured medicines in January 2020.