Muscat: Mohsin Haider Darwish (MHD), one of the largest and pioneering business houses in Oman, has signed an agreement with Ali Moosa Al Bulushi, National Bank of Oman (NBO), and Sohar Freezone for the establishment of a first-of-its-kind pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region – Penicillin General Integrated Industrial Company (Pen-G).
Under the agreement, Pen-G will be jointly owned by MHD and Ali Moosa Al Bulushi and will establish a state-of-the-art fermentation plant for the manufacture of key pharmaceutical start-up material at the Sohar Freezone. NBO will be participating as the primary bank through which the project is being financed.
The signing ceremony took place recently at the Pen-G head office in Ghala. Present at the signing ceremony were Ali Moosa Al Bulushi; Mohammed Abdullah Al Kharusi - Chief Executive Officer, MHD; Abdullah Zahran Al Hinai, Chief Executive Officer, National Bank of Oman; and Omar bin Mahmood Al Mahrizi, Chief Executive Officer of Sohar Freezone and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Sohar Port. Also in attendance at the event were other members of the executive and senior management of each of the four companies.
Commenting on the project, Mohammed Al Kharusi said, “As of 2020, the global pharmaceutical industry generated revenues of $1.27 trillion, representing significant growth over the past two decades. Our objective with Pen-G is twofold. First, we would like to officially put Oman on the world map for raw materials for start-up medicine and enter this lucrative industry, and second, we would like to further our goal of establishing ourselves as a key contributor to Oman Vision 2040 and, by extension, to the government’s national diversification efforts. Furthermore, our location at the Sohar Freezone, right next to the largest industrial port in the country, provides us with ready access to global trade routes between Asia and Europe for both acquisition of raw materials as well as export of our product.”
The Pen-G fermentation plant will be the first of its kind in the region and has been initially designed to have two blocks for the manufacture of Penicillin-G and 6-APA (Amino Penicillanic Acid) respectively. These are key start-up materials for the most widely used group of antibiotics, penicillin, and cephalosporins.
There are also plans to eventually add a further block for the manufacture of key start-up materials for Erythromycin. Furthermore, the plant has been designed from the ground up to comply wholly with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) regulations, ensuring all products manufactured are to global standards.
The project was the brainchild of Ali Moosa Al Bulushi, a proven, dynamic, multi-disciplined project director and program manager. He has been a banker for close to two decades before he plunged into the pharmaceutical business, implementing, and providing complete project life-cycle management services for various pharma projects in India and Oman. Commenting on the Pen-G project, he said, “This project is a core part of my constantly evolving dream to build value in Oman in the Pharma sector. Penicillin G represents value addition at the raw material stage of antibiotic medicine manufacturing – an area currently dominated by China. Once completely operational, this plant will cater to the demand for Penicillin GK raw material amounting to nearly 10% of the world's consumption.”
Omar bin Mahmood Al Mahrizi said, “The growth of the Sohar pharma cluster is an important step forward in the development of the Port and Freezone with far-reaching benefits to the local community, both in terms of investment and access to the finished product. This pharma project, the second project after our animal vaccination facility, will add significant value to all three of our objectives. We are confident that the plant operated by Penicillin General Integrated Industrial Company will provide the impetus for further investment in the pharmaceutical industry and the potential for Sohar to become the main hub for the industry in the region.”
Abdullah Zahran Al Hinai said, “The pharmaceutical industry has endless potential to transform Oman’s national economy and we welcome the first major project at Sohar. It is a proud moment for the bank to be able to support the development of a new high-growth sector and enable Penicillin General Integrated Industrial Company to move forwards with its pioneering plans. NBO is a firm believer in the power of technology and innovation, and a regular investor in projects which leave a lasting legacy and more importantly impact on the country, its economy, and its people.”
“With MHD – one of the foremost business houses in Oman, Sohar Freezone – the largest and most prominent free zone in the country, and NBO – a market-leading bank, I could not ask for better, more experienced partners to bring this dream to life. My sincere thanks to each of them and I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership for the foreseeable future,” concluded Ali Moosa Al Bulushi.