Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inaugurated a $35 million biosimilars factory owned by pharmaceutical company Kalbe Farma in Cikarang, West Java, on Tuesday (27/02).
Managed through subsidiary Kalbio Global Medika, the factory, which is located on the Lippo Cikarang industrial estate, is expected to reduce Kalbe's dependency on imports for its drug production. The factory will produce erythropoietin, a hormone secreted by the kidney that stimulates red blood cell production to help battle cancer, kidney failure and anemia.
"This is one of the milestones [for Indonesia] as we are using a technology-based factory [to produce the drugs], where everything is automatically controlled. Hopefully, this will also push the capabilities of the country's human resources," Jokowi told reporters on Tuesday.
As more Indonesians suffer from certain complicated diseases, there is an expectation to produce more biological drugs believed to have fewer side effects than their chemical counterparts.
Once erythropoietin products enter the market by the end of the year, Kalbe will begin producing Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (GCSF) to help stimulate red blood cells - then followed by the production of insulin and the monoclonal antibody.
Aside from constructing the factory, Kalbe needs Rp 200 billion ($14 million) in the first phase of investment to enhance its research and development capabilities and to forge closer partnerships with Chinese and South Korean companies to allow more technology transfers.
The company hopes to produce about 2-3 million syringes worth of erythropoietin in the first phase of production. The products will be sold in domestic and regional markets.
Aside from trying to capture the Southeast Asian market, Kalbe will also plan to expand its business to Sri Lanka and the Middle East in an effort to increase exports by 10 percent in the next five years, up from 6 percent currently.
"The inauguration of the drug factory is a form of commitment to bring the initiative and encouragement to accelerate the integrated pharmaceutical industry, to produce raw materials, technology expertise and to increase exports," Kalbe Farma president director Vidjongtius said.
Vidjongtius said the company will invest around Rp 1 trillion to Rp 2 trillion over the next five years.
Ju Kian Salim, a director at industrial estate developer Lippo Cikarang, said the manufacturing industry is likely to stimulate economic development this year and he is confident that the sector will remain robust.
The Jakarta Globe is affiliated with the Lippo Group.