Puerto Rico is heading towards the goal of resuming its role as a world reference center for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, an objective supported by the US authorities to reduce dependence on China in a pandemic that has made some pharmaceutical companies think about betting around the island to manufacture products against the COVID-19.
The president of the Puerto Rico Industrial Association (AIPR), Carlos Rodríguez, told Efe on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic in the world has caused the Caribbean island to be placed in a privileged situation to attract manufacturing companies from United States and other countries in the pharmaceutical sector and medical industries.
The leader of the employers’ association that groups the main companies of the island underlined that the island is at a crucial moment to recover the companies that from 2006 left the island to settle in China.
Rodríguez explained that Puerto Rico has all the conditions to resume a role it has won for nearly six decades and that is demonstrated by the fact that 9 of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies have a presence on the island.
In addition, 7 of the 15 most consumed drugs in the world are manufactured in Puerto Rico, from where they are exported to one hundred countries, a sign of the island’s strength and specialization in the pharmaceutical sector.
“The production -of pharmaceutical companies- that one day left Puerto Rico for China can return to distribute throughout the Americas,” said the president of the employer’s association.
He said that currently about 94,000 people are employed on the island in the manufacturing sector and a good part of these in the pharmaceutical and medical devices sector, which guarantees an experience and know-how in case new companies set up here.
The Executive of San Juan bases its expectations of new investments on the fact that the island is the largest exporter of medical and pharmaceutical equipment in the United States, having distributed more than 53,000 million dollars in biopharmaceuticals during 2019, figures that give Puerto Rico all the guarantees to further strengthen its weight in the sector.
Puerto Rico well positioned
The executive director of the US Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), Jennifer Storipan, said on a recent visit to the island that Puerto Rico is well positioned to become a Caribbean hub for the device manufacturing industry. doctors and pharmacists.
Storipan assured that the objective is to provide the United States with “a stable supply chain in an effort to reduce foreign dependency”, in reference to the island.
He further said the island is well positioned to become a pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing center to ensure the US is protected from future pandemics.
The new status that Puerto Rico can achieve is the result of an industry that has gained international prestige for decades and that has served for companies such as the American Romark to choose its facilities as a strategic production center.
The island is where Romark has plans to manufacture and distribute its new investigational drug, NT-300 (nitazoxanide), in the third phase of clinical trials, for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, in the event that is finally approved.
Peter Navarro, manufacturing advisor to the president, Donald Trump, and the White House coordinator for the reconstruction of Puerto Rico, Peter Brown, came to say after a tour of several factories on the island that in terms of pharmaceutical production, it refers to “China is fired” and “Puerto Rico is hired.”
That position to which Puerto Rico aspires is easier to achieve if the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca ends up developing the vaccine against COVID-19 on the island.
Great potential for AstraZeneca to settle on the Island
The mayor of Canóvanas, Lornna Soto, stressed that she sees great potential for AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine against COVID-19 on Puerto Rican soil.
Soto indicated that he gave the order to prepare “a proposal for a very competitive and attractive municipal decree to promote the potential expansion of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the development and manufacture of the vaccine against COVID-19 in Canóvanas.”
For Puerto Rico to regain its role as the nerve center of the pharmaceutical industry worldwide is an objective long sought by the San Juan authorities for some time, in which the representative of the island before Congress in Washington, Jenniffer González, has stood out. ,
González Colón and Federal Senator Marco Rubio announced earlier this month the presentation of legislation that would help solidify Puerto Rico’s economy and position the island as an international center for the production of pharmaceutical equipment.
The initiative’s objective is for companies that currently produce abroad to relocate to US soil and more specifically to Puerto Rico.
He said that the fact that these manufacturers that produce essential materials for health are not in full reach, especially in times of crisis, represents a threat to the national chain of US medical supplies.
Rubio stressed that the coronavirus pandemic made it clear that national manufacturing capacity must be rebuilt, especially in the medical industry.