But he is modest about it and jokes: “I have to read every single journal and blog on it.”
The 56-year-old head honcho in fact, holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Bachelor of Economics from Monash University, Melbourne in Australia. He has garnered more than 30 years of experience in the legal, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, including in the Petronas Group of Companies.
He was President of the Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries from 2009 to 2014 and has completed the Qualified Risk Director (QRD) programme, and is a member of the Institute of Enterprise Risk Practitioners (IERP).
Leonard Ariff has grown Duopharma Biotech into one of Malaysia’s leading pharmaceutical companies and believes that technology and innovation will drive the group to greater heights. With this in mind, he is leading the company into manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine with Russian collaboration.
In this interview, he talks about the Sputnik V vaccine, the logistics involved, costs and the impact on Duopharma Biotech’s bottomline.
How does the Sputnik V vaccine differ from other vaccines?
All vaccines approved by NPRA would be safe and efficacious. Based on peer-reviewed of the second interim analysis Phase III results published by one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals, The Lancet, Sputnik V’s efficacy has been confirmed at 91.6 per cent. In addition to providing complete protection against severe cases of Covid-19, Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine based on a well-studied human adenoviral vector-based platform. The safety, efficacy and lack of adverse long-term effects of adenoviral vector-based vaccines have been proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades. The recombinant adenovirus types 26 and 5 are used as vectors in the Sputnik V vaccine, which is different from the other vaccines.
What will be the process for procuring, storing and supplying the vaccine?
Duopharma Biotech has entered into a Term Sheet Agreement with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to supply 6.4 million doses to vaccinate 3.2 million Malaysians. Supply of the vaccine will be in phases over a period within 2021. We will also provide warehousing, logistics, ground support and other services to government hospitals and clinics.
How much has Duopharma Biotech invested to upgrade the facilty?
Duopharma Biotech has invested about RM12 million to build the infrastructure to handle -20 degrees Celsius, including transfer boxes and special ultra-low temperature freezers. We are also currently converting one of our warehouses in the Klang facility to handle -20 degrees Celsius vaccine storage by getting it down to -30 degrees Celsius.
How will the Sputnik V vaccine deal impact Duopharma Biotech’s financial performance?
The Sputnik V vaccine deal is expected to contribute positively to Duopharma Biotech Group’s earnings for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2021.
As a pre-existing pharmaceutical producer, we are equipped with most of the infrastructure needed. We are also knowledgeable and prepared for the registration, logistical and handling processes.
Also, we are supplying the vaccine with a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aspect as we want to ensure the national vaccination programme initiated by the Government is successful and meets its objective.
Will Duopharma Biotech seek to bring in other Covid-19 vaccines in future?
At the moment, we only supply 6.4 million doses as per the requirement by the government. As part of our support to
the nation in the fight against Covid-19,
we are open for further discussion with the government should it require more doses.
Are you in discussions with any parties to utilise your fill-and-finish line at your Klang plant?
Yes, we are working on another type of vaccine in our Klang vaccine fill and finish facility. — The Health
Duopharma Biotech has invested about RM12 million to build the infrastructure to handle -20 degrees Celsius, including transfer boxes and special ultra-low temperature freezers.