The embargo remains in place today, and also affects Cuba’s trade with most other countries. Cancer is able to confuse the body’s T cells, switching the natural immune response to foreign cells such as cancerous ones. In 2002, Castro made an official visit to Malaysia and met with its prime minister to discuss using Cuba’s biotechnology innovations in Asia, explains Bioven’s chief scientific officer Erik D’Hondt. Kari Cantell, The Story of Interferon: The Ups and Downs in the Life of a Scientist (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company, 1998), 145–46. 14. They brought back a lab's worth of equipment and took over a white stucco guesthouse in the Havana suburbs; a decade later, Cuba was the pharmacy of the Soviet bloc and third world. D’Hondt believes that giving the vaccine first will solicit a larger immune response from the vaccine. This was the case even before the development of the country’s contemporary biotech sector. In addition, as Cuba’s research-and-development profile expanded, active participation in international forums like the WIPO and the WTO was also viewed as a way of protecting Cuban innovations. The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Cuban global shipments during 2019, at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. 222 0 obj << /Linearized 1 /O 225 /H [ 797 692 ] /L 288400 /E 3656 /N 30 /T 283841 >> endobj xref 222 10 0000000016 00000 n South Africa and Cuba have collaborated since 2001 when Fidel Castro offered South African president Thabo Mbeki research and technology support to enhance South Africa’s domestic capacity to produce low-cost antiretroviral drugs for the one out of every nine South Africans currently living with AIDS. Cuba's drug pipeline is most interesting for what it lacks: grand-slam moneymakers, cures for baldness or impotence or wrinkles. “I’m incredulous that they’d like to have more opportunities for their exports. But while Bioven hasn’t yet obtained the required permissions, some trials are still going ahead. As recently as the 1990s, this seemed far-fetched. "I remember one day telling Fidel that we needed a new ultracentrifuge, which costs about $70,000," Campa says. 149 had developed the capacity to reproduce the wonder drug. ‘Prior to chemotherapy the immune cells are competent and active, whereas after chemotherapy most of the immune cells have been destroyed or damaged severely,’ he explains. Cuba now exports vaccines, diagnostic kits and drugs developed by its Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology — the largest research center on the island — to 51 countries. "The elite may watch American TV and read The Wall Street Journal on the Web, so they have a conversational familiarity. 0000000646 00000 n In the wake of the Soviet collapse, Cuba got so good at making knockoff drugs that a thriving industry took hold. Diabetes often causes nerve damage (neuropathy), and because diabetic patients often lose sensation in their feet and legs, they may not notice a blister or sore until it is infected and difficult to treat. The official agreement signed by the two parties has some odd inclusions that one would not expect to find in a legally binding multimillion-dollar contract. During the ceremony, CIM director Lage Dávila commented, “Dissatisfaction is the scientist’s natural state of being, and it is known that what remains to be done is much more than we have done so far.”12 As scientists from both Cuba and the United States commented on the complex process that had led to the agreement, Lage Dávila noted the “additional complications” that accompanied the negotiation process and a long list of reasons that the negotiation might not have been possible. By continuing you agree to the use of cookies. In July, CancerVax, a California-based biotech company, got federal approval to test a Cuban vaccine that stimulates the immune system against lung cancer cells. Latin American Perspectives is a theoretical and scholarly journal for discussion and debate on the political economy of capitalism, imperialism, and socialism in the Americas. According to the GIGB, 250,000 diabetic patients have now been treated with this drug. But before they can be commercialized, they must undergo U.S. clinical trials approved by the Food and Drug Administration. No freighter that visits a Cuban port may dock in the US for the next six months. ‘As part of the procedure to be able to get the agent over here for study, we needed to obtain a special licence from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and that was accomplished around 2013 as a prelude to designing a clinical trial.’ This license gives Roswell permission to import the vaccines for their trials from Cuba. H�b```"Y��A�X�X8�@@���T�̪p�!��~�X�n%椃�.o�&K���e�,��� The first clinical trial of a Cuban-developed vaccine for lung cancer is underway at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Cuba had trade balance of -4.17B in 2014 with exports valued at $1.74B while the imports were $5.91B. SOUTH FL. What Cubans call "the Special Period" produced one notable success: pharmaceuticals. Diabetes, if not adequately controlled, can cut people’s life span by a dozen years, said Raices. To widen its reach, the CIM has two ongoing international collaborations through which the vaccine is being trialled in a number of other countries including Europe and – perhaps surprisingly – the US. If the clinical trials were successful and the products licensed and marketed internationally, Cuba would be entitled to an additional $35 million and royalties from future sales.13 However, because of restrictions pertaining to all business transactions with Cuba, the country would not receive payment in cash but rather in kind. To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. Here it is being used as a second-line treatment against NSCLC in combination with the drug Opdivo (nivolumab). It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. By the next congress in 2018, Raices said, he’s hopeful a clinical trial of Heberprot-P might be underway in the United States. An interim analysis of these trials is planned for early 2019. S�46�3�x-&�;��M6TXf��n�+A�9$ The accreditation should boost international confidence in Cuban biotech and pharmaceutical industries and products, and serve as a model in scientific research for credibility and transparency throughout the hemisphere. Four years later, with collaboration from researchers from the University of Ottawa, Cuba became the first country in the world to successfully produce a synthetic vaccine for the virus. 3. The terms of the deal are restrictive. In 1986, with the directors of both the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization in attendance, the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) was inaugurated just west of Havana. Labs are filled with gear from Europe, Japan, and Brazil. 8. Bioven was subsequently founded and given the rights for the South East Asia territory. "What's all this about patents? Cuba currently exports thousands of doctors to impoverished countries and caters to an influx of "health tourists," mostly rich Africans and Latin Americans seeking cheap, high-quality care. Then he smiles and shrugs. ", Borroto, of CIGB, remembers talking to colleagues about using patents to protect their expanding market. © 2020 Condé Nast. The country imports raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for this, and China is an important supplier (Kaplan and Laing, 2005). But on the flip side, healthcare and education at every level is free for all. As of 2015, Cuban biotech products were exported to 49 countries and there were half a dozen products in 30 clinical trials in 18 countries. Scientists at this sprawling research center in Havana’s Cubanacan section would like to change that. It is worth mentioning, nonetheless, that in 2005 Cuba's chemical drugs industry was reported to have supplied some 80 per cent of the total national consumption of medicines. Cuba Health Reports, “Cuba’s Pharmaceutical Exports Top Tourism, Sugar, and Tobacco,” July 28, 2008, available at medicc.org. ‘Vaccines tend to be proteins with sugars on the outside and something Cuba has in abundance is sugar,’ explains Richards.