Pharma deals with disruptions at Egypt offices

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Staffers have been sent home and security has been bolstered at pharma offices located in Egypt's capital city, amid protests in Tahrir Square that have turned violent in recent days.

Calls made early this morning to offices and subsidiaries located in Cairo and controlled by Novartis, Abbott, Roche and Merck were not answered, indicating that at least some workers had been sent home. “Our colleagues [at Merck's MSD Egypt office] are safe and are working from home, to the extent that they can,” said Steven Campanini, director of corporate media relations at Merck. Campanini said the turmoil in Cairo hasn't had any impact, “in terms of the business.”

An employee answering the phone at Sanofi-Aventis Egypt, located in Cairo, said the “company is OK…we have good security,” adding that a new security manager had been assigned to protect the company's offices. Stateside Sanofi reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Novartis has several locations in Egypt, including pharmaceutical and consumer health divisions, as well as Sandoz, the company's generics manufacturer. Novartis' manufacturing operations in Egypt produce 75 million medicine packets per year, making it the company's seventh largest manufacturing center, according to the Novartis Egypt website."To date, all Novartis associates in the country are accounted for," said Julie Masow, a Novartis spokesperson, in an email. "Most of Novartis' premises in Egypt are closed, however, we are continuing essential operations to ensure the delivery of orders of life-saving products," she said.  

Ana Paula Barboza, director of public affairs at Abbott International, said in an email that Abbott's operations are continuing in Egypt. "Abbott is monitoring the situation closely from an employee safety perspective," she said.

Phil Deschamps, president and CEO at inVentiv Health's GSW Worldwide, said in an email that the company's inVentiv Health Intermark office, located in Cairo and “staffed with over 75 talented local Egyptian and Middle Eastern people,” has been unreachable. “We have been unable to communicate with our staff there since there is a virtual blackout in communications,” said Deschamps via email. “We are anxious to make sure our people are safe. We wish them well in what must be a very trying time for our staff and the people of Egypt."

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