Germany-based Linde Engineering’s plans to build a $250m insulin plant in Saudi Arabia could be delayed due to the lack of a licence for the pharmaceutical facility.

Linde is conducting negotiations on behalf of an unnamed Saudi Arabia-based client in regards to finding an equipment supplier for the facility. So far, no agreement has yet been signed for the insulin technology.

“The real obstacle is getting a licence from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA),” a source tells MEED. “If the company is registered in Europe or the US then this is a problem that can be solved quickly. If the technology provider has not done clinical trials then there is going to be a problem.”

Many established pharmaceutical companies have a licence for the technology to make insulin, but most are reluctant to share it. However there are other, smaller, companies that make technology available to buy under licence for areas such as Saudi Arabia.

“[Linde] is talking to around four or five companies,” the source says. “The company we are representing knows what they want and are prepared for this. Some good consultants are working on the project and the financing is in place.”

The facility will be built in Riyadh and produce around 1,000 kilogrammes-a-year of insulin when completed.  

Media reports in April said that Linde had signed an agreement with a company called the Saudi Gulf Company for Basic Industries, which is not related to the similarly titled petrochemicals giant the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic). Linde has declined to name the client on confidentiality grounds.