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Contact: Claudia Monlouis

Monday, April 18, 2005 - The Government of Saint Lucia is considering a unique proposal for the island to become a main provider of pharmaceutical products and a training ground in pharmaceuticals for professionals in the Caribbean. The proposal to develop the pharmaceutical sector has come from the Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology (TIPT) whose representatives visited the island to dialogue with government on the feasibility of establishing the two-fold project which promises to expand the educational and employment opportunities available to the general public.

Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology Dr. Alexander McGregor on Wednesday April 13th, made a presentation of his proposal to several concerned parties including the Managing Director of the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service of the OECS Mr. Francis Burnett.

He says if given the political green light the island should be able to boast of a reputable pharmaceutical plant and a training institute in some 18 to 24 months time. He says the initiative stands to lower the high cost of procuring pharmaceutical drugs including HIV/AIDS medication, for OECS states.

“St. Lucia would have access to these drugs through the methods that we have put in place, to allow the transfer of intellectual value from those countries that have already developed those products and already have technologies in those products. Therefore access to these drugs will be a lot easier.”

At this point says Dr. McGregor, he is optimistic that the governments of the sub- region will all come on board and tap into the vast potential of the proposal which intends to serve the Caribbean as a whole.

“To put a dollar value on all the phases together we’re talking about almost a one hundred million dollar business that we’re trying to introduce to St. Lucia and I anticipate that 50 to 60 percent of that will come from private investors.”

According to Dr. McGregor if approved, the first phase of the project will entail the establishment of the post graduate institute. This institute, he says should attract students from the entire world. He says a generic pharmaceutical “assembly only” manufacturing plant will be set up shortly after.

While on the island Dr. McGregor and his team took time out to conduct some preliminary research to ascertain the status of the local pharmaceutical sector.

According to Dr. McGregor, although there is limited infrastructure; in many cases starting a project from scratch facilitates the inculcation of best practices from the very beginning.

“The pharmaceutical sector is somewhat fragmented; it’s mostly a procurement system where you’re importing pharmaceuticals. You don’t have a manufacturing base and a lot more can be done in regard to regulations and compliance. So we’re offering a lot of ideas and initiatives to elevate the standards which building a pharmaceutical industry.”

Meanwhile the Ministry of External Affairs says the recent repositioning of St. Lucia’s foreign offices to focus more on developmental activities have begun to yield the desired outcomes. Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, Senator Honourable Petrus Compton says the country’s overseas offices now share responsibility for attracting economic opportunities to the island.

Only this week the Ministry of External Affairs International Trade and Civil Aviation hosted several prospective investors from Canada. Among them were representatives from the Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology (TIPT) who were on the island to explore the possibility of establishing a $100,000.000 pharmaceutical school and assembly plant. Minister Compton says St. Lucia’s consulate in Toronto, Canada was the point of initial contact for Dr. Alexander McGregor, Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology and the main proponent of the proposal.

“When I visited Canada our Consul General Mr. Joshua had arranged a series of meetings with a number of persons for me who were interested in investing in St. Lucia , persons who were interested in seeing what opportunities there were in St. Lucia for their particular enterprises and Dr. McGregor was one of the persons whom I met. I had an opportunity to visit his laboratory and the training facility and I came away very impressed with the work he was doing and saw a lot of wonderful opportunity for us here in St. Lucia.”

The Minister says although the Ministry of External Affairs is not directly responsible for managing development, its offices serve as a very strategic liaison between St. Lucia and oversees based entrepreneurs and investors.

“Because we have connections with all of the governments with which we have diplomatic links, we have offices all over the world where we don’t have offices we have representation in the form of Honorary Consuls we are ideally placed to tap into possibilities to tap into investments for St. Lucia more than any other body so where NDC can go we already are.”

According to Mr. Compton the Ministry would then hand the process over to the relevant government entities for continued dialogue.

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