Dr Ferhat Farsi, CEO and founding partner of CinnaGen İlaç, shares his experience working for the largest biotech in the MENA region, Turkey’s important role within the global group, and his ambitious plans for the future.
“Having worked for leading Turkish companies for several years … I realized that Turkey needed a high-tech biotech company”
Having previously worked for several heavyweights of Turkish pharma, including Biofarma İlaç, Bilim İlaç and Abdi Ibrahim, Ferhat Farsi made the move to CinnaGen İlaç – the Turkish affiliate of Iranian biotech outfit Cinnagen – upon its foundation in 2016. Drawing on his wide-ranging experience, Farsi felt that CinnaGen İlaç had the potential to fill an important gap in the Turkish market. He rationalizes that, “having worked for leading Turkish companies for several years in the areas of conventional pharmaceuticals manufacturing, generics and their value-added combinations, I realized that Turkey needed a high-tech biotech company, which is the reason why I joined.”
Recently crowned the largest biotech in the MENA region, with 2,300 employees and 12 products on the market in between 10 and 15 countries, Cinnagen has grand ambitions, with Farsi’s Turkish affiliate at their heart. Turkey boasts a highly geostrategic location straddling Europe and the Middle East as well as well-developed human capital and institutional strength. As Farsi reveals that, “Currently, we are working on the construction of a plant in Çerkezköy that will become operational in the first half of 2019. The factory will include a special R&D section for biopharmaceuticals and manufacturing capacities for both the domestic and export markets… in the biotech industry, high volumes are needed to be a global player.”
Moves have already been made to build international ties from Turkey. Farsi explains that, “Before even starting production in Turkey, we made a USD 50mn export link agreement for five countries including Sri Lanka, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Moldova and Bosnia & Herzegovina.” Furthermore, technology transfer arrangements in the aforementioned countries are already in place, as well as distribution deals in nations as diverse as Thailand, Serbia, Jordan, Georgia and Bangladesh. Farsi adds that Cinnagen İlaç has “three projects running for European submission in collaboration with the EMA, for which we will receive marketing authorization within the next three years.”
With Cinnagen İlaç as Cinnagen’s gateway to lucrative European markets, Farsi lays out his overarching ambitions for the firm thusly: “Our facilities are EU GMP-certified, so as soon as we gain access to the EU market, we will be able to offer our products – which are estimated to have a EUR two billion market value each – there. Our vision for 2023 is to become the biggest Turkish exporter by value, as our products are being produced in high volume which leads to high efficiency due to the complex technology involved.”
He concludes, “As we have achieved our goal of becoming the top biotech company in the MENA region, our goal is now to be among the top 10 biotechs worldwide within the next ten years. CinnaGen İlaç will be instrumental to achieving this target, as it opens the door for exports to Europe. Considering our excellent pipeline management and the progress we are currently making to meet regulatory requirements, I think this goal is very realistic.”