Plans to transform Barbados into a life sciences hub in the Caribbean are quickly becoming a reality.
The efforts will see, among other developments, the country manufacturing a new prostate health supplement for export into the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.
The update from Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados (BIDC) Mark Hill on the island’s push to develop the life sciences industry came during the recent staging of the Trade and Innovation Expo (TIE) 2023, held at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium where patrons received a first-hand look at products being introduced here in collaboration with Ghana.
“We’ve been able to sponsor a plant garden in Ghana which features 1 500 plants. Barbados now has full access to these for our life sciences industry development initiative,” he said about the collaboration with Ghana, which has been operating for the past 24 months through the Centre for Plant Medicine Research.
One of the products on display at TIE was URO 500, a supplement for the maintenance of prostate health. Hill disclosed that the product has already been approved by the Barbados Drug Service and would be available for sale as an over-the-counter pharmaceutical product.
“So, we’re beginning to do what we call the ‘nutraceuticals roll out’ for URO 500 and other products, which lays the foundation for our pharmaceutical sector, whereby we started to package, market and distribute the product on the island.
We intend to run some trials among Barbadian men dealing with prostate issues. Following from here, we are going to start manufacturing in Barbados for export into Latin America and the rest of the Caribbean,” the Hill explained.
The Export Barbados CEO described the collaboration between the two nations as a means of paving the way for new products on the market, as well as new industrial opportunities, particularly for the pharmaceuticals sector under the life sciences industry.
Meanwhile, Dr Emma Dash of Live Well Clinics described Export Barbados as a very important partner. The clinic, located at No. 18 Pelican Village, has placed a high emphasis on technology and strives to provide affordable, high-quality primary healthcare for every Barbadian.
She explained: “Live Well is embracing technology; we are soon launching watches that can test blood pressure and monitor your daily steps, monitor your sleep, and we can use all this data to improve people’s health and live well.”
Dr Dash also revealed plans were underway with Export Barbados to launch the use of the be.well testing platform by Alveo Technologies. It is a molecular nucleic acid amplification testing device currently used to test for COVID-19 and other acute respiratory infections. The platform can be adapted to detect a wide range of diseases, bacteria and other pathogens.
Export Barbados intends to facilitate the development of other tests for use on the be.well platform locally, as well as demand in regional export markets by 2024.
“This test just involves a swab, and then you put it into the cartridge and into the machine, a handheld device which can be taken anywhere, and the results go directly to the physician’s phone. So, you have the results even before the patient leaves the office,” she explained.
Efforts to promote the life sciences at TIE also involved showcases of some existing companies within the local life sciences industry. Promotional materials from BioConnect Medical Centre, Lenstec (Barbados) Inc., and MedRegis were displayed and distributed. (PR)