Novo to Build Diabetes Pen Plant in Iran as Sanctions Ease

  • Danish drugmaker to spend 70 million euros on new factory
  • Easing sanctions to boost economy and spending on healthcare

Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s biggest maker of insulin, will build a plant to assemble its FlexPen pre-filled devices in Iran to expand in a country where millions suffer from diabetes, two months after an international accord on sanctions relief.

The Danish drugmaker will spend 70 million euros ($78 million) on the five-year project, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The project will create 160 jobs, in addition to the 130 people the Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based company already employs in Iran.

The announcement may be one of the first by a Western pharmaceutical company after the July accord. Iran and six countries, including the U.S., ended a 12-year standoff by signing an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of trade and other restrictions. Under the deal, Iran will be freed from economic and financial sanctions once United Nations monitors verify it has curbed its nuclear activities and addressed suspicions that it sought to develop atomic weapons in the past.

"As sanctions are lifted, it will become easier to operate here and building a factory will become a lot easier," Ole Moelskov Bech, corporate vice president of Novo Nordisk’s Near East business unit, said in a phone interview. "Also, the growth in the Iranian economy will make it more interesting to operate here, as they will have more funds to invest in health-care."

Supply of medicines have been excluded from sanctions, and
Novo had started to discuss plans for the new factory with Iranian counterparts almost a year ago, according to Bech. The company would have made the investment even without easing sanctions, but the accord will help because very few banks have been willing to work with Novo Nordisk on payments coming from Iran, he said.

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