Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2015 Contents MAY 2015 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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companies and medical devices," he said.
Based on this, distributor agreements were
made with three Cuban pharmaceutical com-
panies in Cuba---Labiofam, the Centre for
Molecular Immunology and HerberBiotec.
"Each of these companies has a wide array
of pharmaceutical products in the areas of
diabetes, cancer and a host of vaccines. After
securing the relationships, in 2012 we held a
scientific symposium at Crowne Plaza in Port-
of-Spain and a Cuban delegation came down.
We hosted a conference where we invited peo-
ple from the Ministry of Health and a host of
specialists in cancer, diabetes and family physi-
cians to attend. We introduced Cuban drugs
to the local medical fraternity," Hosein said.
He said the next step was to try to get the
drugs registered in T&T with the Chemistry,
Food and Drugs Division. However, the process
"We have not been able to go pass that
process of registration of all the products. I
think the main reason is that this is ground
breaking for the Chemistry, Food and Drug
Division. To be frank, I think there is some
sort of deficiency in analysing the products
against the established standards that the
Chemistry, Food and Drugs Division is accus-
tomed to, which is, the United States Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) registration
and the EU regulations which they follow."
He believes if the T&T authorities are serious
about examining the benefits of the Cuban
drugs, the drugs will soon be available local-
"There is the abundance of clinical research
that the Cubans and other jurisdictions would
have done on these drugs. In Germany, Japan,
India and China, they have all done studies
on Cuban drugs.
"Even here in the Latin American region
Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil have also done
clinical research and trials on the high standards
of Cuban drugs. These countries have imple-
mented trials and have already commercialised
these drugs. These products are not new to
The United States is showing interest in
buying Cuba drugs now that those two coun-
tries are establishing diplomatic and commer-
cial ties. The Cuban Immunology Centre and
the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of New York
signed an agreement in April for the US to
import a therapeutic vaccine against lung can-
"Signing this agreement means we can
immerse ourselves in clinical trials when we
return to New York," said Candance Johnson,
director of the US-based Roswell Park institute.
The agreement was signed during a visit to
Cuba by a business delegation headed by New
York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Among the Cuban drugs
awaiting registration in
T&T is Heberprot-P which
Hosein described as a
"It is a vaccine that has
an active ingredient called
epidermal growth factor
(EGF) and this vaccine
actually can be adminis-
tered to patients with early
types of diabetic wounds
and ulcers, and even those
ulcers which would have
gone on to an advanced
stage. This vaccine has
proven to be very effective
in preventing deterioration
of the foot ulcer and mov-
ing in the area of amputa-
tion. It helps with mitiga-
tion of infection. It is
somewhat of a miraculous
Hosein suggests that the
Health Ministry do a pilot
study on the vaccine and,
once that is successful, the
authorities should quickly
approve this drug s entry
into the T&T market.
He said another drug,
Nimotuzumab, can be used by cancer patients.
"It has a unique position in the class of
cancer drugs. It is not a bio-stimulant drug.
It is innovative and has been funded and
researched in Cuba and has significant impact
on patients with pediatric brain tumours, head,
back and lung cancer. We have a Cuban ento-
mologist in T&T and that specialist has expe-
rience with the drug and has impressed on
local authorities it is safe and effective," he
He said prominent local oncologist Dr Kavi
Capildeo wants to see the drug used in T&T.
"The real success will be when those in
authority get serious and seize the opportunity,
recognising the importance of these drugs and
the benefit for these countries. I am optimistic
the authorities in T&T will wake up one morn-
ing and realise that we are wasting time."
Despite setbacks, Hosein said there is one
Cuban product that has just been approved
for use in T&T. Bactivec is manufactured by
"It is used for spraying against the Aedes
Aegypti mosquito, the causative agent for
dengue and Chikungunya. The insect vector
control programme would have traditionally
used chemicals for spraying and public health
spraying. The mosquitoes have built up a
resistance to these traditional products. This
Cuban product, Bactivec, is biological in a
He said another advantage of the Cuban
drugs is that they are affordable.
"They are probably half the price of the
other similar products on the market. I cannot
give exact prices at this point in time but I
can say it is highly cost effective," he said.
Commenting on the experience of doing
business with Cuba, Hosein said: "You must
look at the bigger opportunity. If it is different
as a business person you must find ways to
"Every country has its system and laws.
The problem is we in T&T have become accus-
tomed to a certain pattern and when it is time
to look at something new it becomes difficult.
In Cuba you have to submit your documents
for registration, legalise documents and what-
ever other procedures."
Dr Rody Cervantes, head of the Cuban Med-
ical Brigade in T&T, said Cubans officials have
had meetings with Health Minister Dr Fuad
"He told us that he agrees to start the
process to register the products like Biolarvicide
(Bactivec), Nimotuzumab and Heberprot-P.
We are working toward the goal of seeing these
drugs in T&T in the future. After all these
drugs are registered in more than 15 countries.
The American market is now looking at these
drugs," he said.
Cuban drugs---Nimotuzumab and Heberprot-P---both awaiting registration in T&T
The only Cuban product to be approved for use in T&T at the
moment. Bactivec is manufactured by Labiofam.
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