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Brazilian insulin

Insulin crystals, the raw material used to manufacture the drug for the treatment of diabetes, will now be produced in Brazil, thanks to an agreement between Biomm, a biotechnology company based in the city of Belo Horizonte, State of Minas Gerais, and União Quimica, from the State of São Paulo. The new facilities will be located in the Distrito Industrial JK industrial complex in the capital city of Brasília. Investment in the new facilities will range from R$ 150 million to R$ 200 million; the plant is expected to be ready in two years. In 2008, the Ministry of Health alone imported 12.6 million vials of insulin at a cost of R$ 69 million.  The related technology – based on recombinant DNA, whereby genetically modified bacteria produce the insulin – was developed by Biomm.  The company has developed its own production process and has obtained patents abroad. Only four companies in the world, including Biomm, have the technology to produce the hormone that processes the glucose in the blood. The Brazilian company is an offshoot of another company, Biobrás, which had produced insulin in Brazil since 1990 and sold its plant in 2001 to Danish company Novo Nordisk. The Danish company and the US’s Eli Lilly hold the dominant global market share of this kind of drug.