Cuba Offers Russia Its Catalog of Medicines in Exchange for Raw Materials for Azithromycin and Others

Manuel Marrero and Ricardo Cabrisas supervise the signing of the contracts with the Russian pharmaceutical company. (@R_Malmierca)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 9 June 2023 — BioCubaFarma will return from Russia with the signing of at least three documents that the official press has described as contracts, although strictly there is only one that will allow the acquisition of active ingredients for the medications. The information gives as an example azithromycin, one of the most sought-after antibiotics in Cuba that is often scarce in pharmacies, although in the informal market it costs 400-500 pesos per blister pack.

Eduardo Martínez Díaz, president of BioCubaFarma, celebrated the agreement and announced two others, much less specific. One of them is a memorandum to “establish a strategy of scientific-technical cooperation and the transfer and assimilation of technology.” This agreement, which includes the commercialization of raw materials to make generic drugs, was signed with the Russian JSC Active Components.

The other is a “letter of intent from the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to create a multinational alliance” that allows achieving “sovereignty in the short term,” as well as the production of vaccines and medicines.

Martínez Díaz accompanied Prime Minister Manuel Marrero to the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council in Sochi, and he sold a catalog of products to treat infectious and chronic diseases, including diabetes, neurological pathologies and all kinds of cancers. The intention, he said, is that they can be marketed in Latin America and the “Euro-Asian zone.” The three signed documents include Belarus, although its contribution is unknown.

For Cuba, the profit is in the acquisition of raw materials, technology and medical equipment especially, as emphasized by the authorities of the pharmaceutical sector present this Thursday at the event. But it was also clear what the Russians get in return.

“We want the company BioCubaFarma to represent us in Latin America. We are very happy to have signed these documents on cooperation with our partners and are sure that the results will be effective,” said the representative of JSC Components Activos.

In March of this year, Mexico, Colombia and Cuba announced the creation of a Medicines Agency of Latin America and the Caribbean with the aim of “consolidating the self-sufficiency of strategic inputs in the region” and strengthening the authorization of drugs and vaccines during health emergencies through common regulatory frameworks.

The agreement, open to other countries (Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic were expressly cited), has declared a regional intention, both in terms of regulation and the exchange of raw materials, technologies and final products. In this equation Russia has the gateway through Cuba.

“This alliance that we have established today will provide very positive results for both the Russian Federation and Cuba, and also for other countries in the Eurasian region, Latin America and the Caribbean,” insisted Martínez Díaz, who asked the Russian side to work actively to make the agreement materialize as soon as possible.

Marrero, who witnessed the signing and stood next to the president of BioCubaFarma, dedicated the day in Sochi to emphasizing the ties between Cuba and Eurasia, and he offered the installation of an industrial park to celebrate their union.

“We propose to promote the creation of an industrial park in the Mariel Special Development Zone. Its realization would be an expression of our efforts to form connections that lead to that interregional integration to which we aspire, especially in the context of a multipolar world,” he said.

The prime minister further explained Cuba’s position as the key to the continent, “a region with which we have signed economic complementarity agreements for the reduction of tariffs. Our potentialities, as a bridge to Latin America, provide alternatives to complement us and project efforts towards new spaces of integration,” he said.

Marrero once again sold the “potentialities” of Cuba in the biotechnology sector and other joint businesses in industry, health, tourism, education, digital economy, e-commerce and energy — in  other words, almost everything. And he also offered Cuban businesspeople, who are interested in doing business with the Eurasian zone.

The speech was also sprinkled with ideological messages, starting with the statement that Fidel Castro would be “proud” to see Cuba participating in such an event, the challenges of a post-pandemic world, the importance of peace — without any reference, even veiled, to Ukraine — and the struggle of the Cuban people against adversity, attributed to the “intensified blockade.”

“We are fighting, not only to resist, but to develop, and I can assure you that Cuba will never surrender, and that we will always defend our independence and sovereignty ’until victory, forever,’” he intoned before the audience.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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