BioCubaFarma, the Cuban organization of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industries, is a holding company that manages and coordinates national efforts in the biopharma sector to produce medicines and medical equipment and to provide high-quality life science services of high economic and social impact. The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry is one of Cuba’s strategic industries, supplying goods, technologies, and services that comply with the high international quality standards in the sector.
Building on Cuba’s homegrown scientific and technical expertise and the government’s substantial support for and investment in biotechnological and pharmaceutical research and development (R&D), BioCubaFarma has brought together the many assets that make Cuba’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry a world-class player.
In keeping with its mission to prioritize public health and the National Health System, BioCubaFarma has consolidated a deep product pipeline that includes prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines, innovative biopharmaceutical products for cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), neurology, and other indications, biosimilar products, generic drugs, diagnostic reagents, medical equipment, agro biotech products, and natural and traditional medicines.
BioCubaFarma manages a large portfolio of patented inventions, with 2438 patents registered outside Cuba and more than 2640 patent registration applications pending worldwide. This catalogue of assets provides the basis for an open and very flexible approach to collaboration with external partners through mechanisms that range from research collaboration agreements to licensing and development agreements. BioCubaFarma is also seeking potential partners interested in investing in Cuban biopharma assets through venture funding or similar mechanisms.
“Cuba bet on biotechnology very early, opening the first research–manufacturing facility in the country in 1981,” said Agustín Lage, founder of and until recently also director of BioCubaFarma’s Center of Molecular Immunology. “Those early steps set the stage for the sector’s current performance in Cuba—supplying over 60% of the country’s essential medicines list, exporting to more than 40 countries, registering innovative products, showing tangible impact in public health, and owning more than 2000 patent filings worldwide. This provides the backdrop for further growth of the biopharma sector in Cuba over the next decade.” Lage currently serves as a scientific advisor to BioCubaFarma.
BioCubaFarma’s strength and value are derived from a network of 34 companies and institutions under one umbrella that collaborateS on maximizing the impact of their R&D programs in the biotechnological and pharmaceutical space. Eight institutions constitute the core of this network.
• The Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB): the CIGB focuses on the research, development, manufacture and commercialization of human and veterinary vaccines, and therapeutic molecules such as peptides, proteins, monoclonal antibodies, diagnostic systems, genetically improved plants, functional foods, and aquaculture products.
• The Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM): the CIM specializes in the development and manufacture of products for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to the immune system, and of molecular vaccines for cancer immunotherapy.
• The Finlay Institute (IFV): the IFV is Cuba’s pre-eminent vaccine research and production centre. The institute coordinates research in immunology, molecular biology, and applied microbiology to develop novel vaccines and the fermentation processes needed for their production. Among IFV’s top accomplishments is the development of the first vaccine in the world against meningitis B almost 30 years ago.
• The Center of Immunoassay (CIE): the CIE is devoted to the development, manufacture, and commercialization of the SUMA platform, an ultramicro analytical system designed for large public health programs that require neonatal screening, blood certification, epidemiological surveillance, and cancer control. The CIE also commercializes glucometers and capillary glucose biosensors.
• The Neurosciences Center (CNEURO): the CNEURO develops and markets technologies and services for mental health professionals—including neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurophysiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and intensive care physicians—who need tools to evaluate factors such as brain or muscular electrical activity (spontaneous or evoked) or hearing impairment.
• The National Center for Scientific Research (CNIC): the CNIC focuses on the development and manufacture of pharmaceutical products and supplemental foods derived from natural products such as sugar cane and beeswax.
• The Central Institute for Digital Research (ICID): the ICID develops, manufactures, and commercializes medical and digital technology devices under the trademark COMBIOMED for the diagnosis and monitoring of CVD and other conditions.
• FARMACUBA: FARMACUBA manages the export of generic drugs, blood-derived products, and human placenta-derived products, and the import of raw materials, packaging materials, pharmaceuticals, reagents, equipment, and spare parts for the Cuban pharmaceutical and biotechnological industry.
Each of these institutions is organized following the principle of a ‘closed cycle’ enterprise that fully integrates all steps of translation—from research to post-marketing follow-up—to ensure the streamlined progress of any R&D program.
“With more than 30 years of experience in research, good manufacturing practice (GMP) manufacturing, clinical trials, and exports, Cuban biopharma is now a mature sector that profits from synergies among the more than 30 enterprises present in the country,” said BioCubaFarma’s Lage. “Cuban biopharma is now ready to strategically grow its network of international partnerships.”