The pharmaceuticals company Zakaria Tabriz was established in 1990 to reduce Iran's dependence on imported raw materials for the production of antibiotics and other strategically important medicines, such as organ transplant drugs.
Dr Shamsaddin Tabatabaie, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zakaria Tabriz, profiles the company's activities and talks about the supporting role carried out by Shell Chemicals.
"The decision to set up the Zakaria Tabriz pharmaceutical complex was taken in 1990, with construction beginning in 1995 and completion of the plant in 1998. The complex is located on a 30-hectare site in Tabriz and the actual plant occupies some 45,000 square metres," explains Dr Tabatabaie.
"Zakaria Tabriz' shareholders are the National Iranian Industries Organisation, with an 83.5 per cent share, and Jaber Ebne Hayyan, with 16.5 percent.
"The plant has been constructed to a modular design, comprising several manufacturing modules.
Each of these is treated as a separate production unit or factory, to avoid any cross contamination whatsoever between the various units and to ensure that our end products are of the highest quality and purity. Each module has its own air handling unit and a positive air pressure is maintained in all access areas to and from each module and in all internal corridors.
"Annual turnover at the plant is running at around US $50 million dollars, with an output of about 1,500 metric tonnes of raw materials and 300 million pieces of finished products, which can be categorised into three main types.
"The first range of products we produce is for organ transplant drugs, and includes cyclosporine, which we produce in both soft gel capsule and liquid form. The second category represents the majority of our production and includes raw materials for both sterile and oral antibiotics.
This category includes a wide range of the 'Betalactam' group of antibiotics. The third category is for finished products such as injectable antibiotics and powder suspension syrups for oral use.
"One of the company's driving forces is to maintain the high standards which have been set. The plant has been developed to make use of the latest technology available in the world, and we have implemented a validation system throughout all the processes in the plant.
Of course, the company strictly adheres to international standards and rules and regulations regarding the manufacture of all our pharmaceutical products.
"To help us sustain performance and the high quality of our finished products, we have to ensure that our suppliers are the best and will provide us with consistently top grade materials.
So for our supplies of solvents, which are an important ingredient in the formulation of pharmaceutical raw materials, our main supplier is Shell Chemicals, from whom we purchase significant amounts of solvents each year.
"We have worked with Shell Chemicals from the beginning and there are three main reasons why we have done so.
The first is that we need to produce the highest quality products to help the lives of patients, so we must only use the very best materials available in the world today.
"Secondly, the Shell Chemicals' range of products is compatible with the other ingredients that we use in our production processes."Finally, the service and supply we get from Shell Chemicals is excellent.
We obtain our stocks from Noor Shell, who maintain an office in Tehran. We also have good relations with Shell's regional office in Dubai, for the exchange of technical matters and for synchronising delivery dates.
"Deliveries are always on time and the service is extremely efficient. If we ever need any technical advice, Shell Chemicals are always ready to help. Their international knowledge and expertise are without parallel, and this fact ensures the quality of our products.
"I am happy to say that we are now meeting Iran's annual needs for raw materials for antibiotics and the Government has been able to stop the importation of these from overseas.
"For the future," concludes Dr Tabatabaie, "we are looking at the further development of Zakaria Tabriz to enable the company to manufacture some of the intermediate materials which we require in our production processes and which we currently have to import. Furthermore, we are inviting foreign investors to enter into a joint venture with us to establish a new plant within the existing complex for that very purpose."
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)