From left: Habil Khorakiwala, Founder Chairman of Wockhardt, Mohammed Al Muallem, CEO & MD, DP World - UAE Region, and Murtaza Khorakiwala, MD Workhardt, at the inauguration ceremony and launch of Wockhardt facility in Dubai on 29th July, 2018. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Wockhardt, an India-based pharmaceutical company, launched a new facility at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) on Sunday, marking its entry into the Middle East market.

The $40-million-facility (Dh147 million) will manufacture antibiotics, which will then mostly be exported to other markets including Europe and the US. Wockhardt said the Dubai facility will be specifically for the manufacture of an antibiotic meant to work on “superbugs.”

Murtaza Khorakiwala, managing director of Wockhardt, said that resistance to antibiotics is growing, creating what is known as superbugs — organisms that are resistance to current medicine.

“This antibiotic [we will manufacture] works on organisms that have built resistance to antibiotics, so in a way, this will satisfy an unmet medical need,” he said at the launch event.

The antibiotic being developed by Wockhardt is still under clinical trial, with commercial production of it expected to start in two years at the newly launched Dubai facility.

Manufacturing and trade hub

The launch of the manufacturing facility is part of Jafza’s plan to attract more pharmaceuticals company to the free zone to be a manufacturing and trade hub. It is also in line with plans to attract more Indian companies as India’s economy continues to grow at a faster pace than most other economies.

Mohammad Al Muallem, chief executive officer of Jafza and CEO and managing director for the UAE region at DP World, said the free zone is pursuing growth in the industrial space and specifically, pharmaceuticals.

“Now, we have about 5 per cent of our activities in Jafza made up of pharmaceuticals, with more than 300 companies from 50 countries. In terms of the Dubai government strategy, one of the areas we need to focus on is industries, and within that there are many varieties, and pharmaceuticals is one where Jafza can give good facilities,” he said.

The volume of trade in the health care and pharmaceutical sectors at Jafza reached Dh14.2 billion in 2016, according to Jafza figures, with the free zone calling the sectors “key targets” in the Dubai industrial Strategy 2030.