Siam Bioscience Co Ltd has joined Cuban pharmaceutical maker CIMAB SA to produce world-class medicines for complicated diseases, aiming to serve local demand and cut the cost of imported drugs.
Siam Bioscience managing director Songpon Deechongkit said the joint venture is worth 3 billion baht, with Siam Bioscience holding a 70% stake and CIMAB SA the rest.
"We will be building a new factory in [Nonthaburi's] Bang Yai district," Mr Songpon said. "Construction is due to be completed in 2018."
The company aims to make biopharmaceuticals for several complicated diseases, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders and psoriasis.
Biopharmaceuticals are medical drugs produced using biotechnology. Proteins such as antibodies and nucleic acids used for medicinal therapies are produced by means other than direct extraction from a native (non-engineered) biological source.
The new joint-venture company, Abinis Co Ltd, could start producing biopharmaceuticals by 2020, Mr Songpon said.
The plan is for 90% of the drugs made at the new factory to be exported and for 10% to supply the domestic market.
Mr Songpon said the prices of medicines produced by the company will be 50% lower than those of expensive imported drugs from developed countries, letting Thai patients access higher-quality medicines at a lower price.
"The factory will also help Thailand prepare its medical services and social welfare for the upcoming ageing society," he said.
Apiporn Pasawat, executive committee chairman of Siam Bioscience, said the company has already been granted investment privileges from the Board of Investment, as the project falls under the government's targeted industries for Thailand 4.0.
The 10 targeted industries are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.
Mr Apiporn said the new factory will have the capacity to produce 100 kilogrammes of complex medication in the first phase and is expected to increase production further to meet rising demand.
He said the partnership also coincides with the 60-year anniversary of Thailand-Cuba diplomatic relations, to be celebrated next year.