Pharmaceutical company Chemi-Pharm, which is building a new €57 million factory, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MKM) have signed an agreement that could lead to future cooperation to secure Estonia's drug supply.
The state is currently developing a national drug stock and Estonian Stockpiling Agency Ltd (EVK) is looking for partners who can store a one-month supply of essential drugs in Estonia.
Chemi-Pharm recently signed a joint letter of intent with EVK and MKM about future cooperation to secure the supply and storage of essential medicines. The company is looking for customers and investors.
The ministry and EVK have promised to share information with Chemi-Pharm but there are no other obligations except confidentiality.
EVK board member Priit Ploompuu defended the confidentiality clause: "There is definitely a bit more trust between us now. They can talk to us about their plans, we can talk to them about our expectations of the sector."
If Estonia has its own pharmaceutical industry this will guarantee the country's supply in a potential future crisis.
Chemi-Pharm's plans to build the new facility, in Saku, have been in development for several years but were slowed by the economic impacts of the war in Ukraine.
CEO Kristo Timberg said the design process is completed.
"At the moment we are communicating with financial investors, with different partners, with possible potential clients, and hopefully in the coming months or spring we will have a clearer message about the pace and the steps we are taking," Timberg said.
The company produces disinfectants and the factory will house several microbiology and virology laboratories. But it will not develop original active ingredients.
"Our role will remain the development of medicines, their compounding and filling and packaging," Timberg said.
It is now difficult to move forward with small steps, he added and several investments need to be made at once so capabilities will be read in three years.
Timberg recalled the start of the coronavirus pandemic and said it was "a little late" for the government to call on entrepreneurs to speed up production. He said effective plans need to be made in advance.
The CEO said the company is also looking for support from the state: "Both financially and in terms of good words and good thinking."
Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Helen Wright