Egypt leads the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region when it comes to production of pharmaceuticals for the local market, said Mohamed El-Dabab, the CEO and the managing director of GSK.
El-Dababi made his comments during his participation in the third edition of Al-Ahram Establishment’s two-day pharmaceutical conference that kicked off on Sunday.
He noted that the region’s pharmaceutical sector has grown notably over the past few years, adding that spending in this sector is estimated to reach $60 billion by 2025.
The 18 countries in the MENA region contain 140 pharmaceutical companies, comprising two percent of the global market, according to the CEO of the British multinational pharmaceutical company.
He also urged Egyptian policymakers to set a national strategy to localise pharmaceutical industries.
“Local pharma manufacturing in the MENA region represents between 32-57 percent of the consumed pharma packages. Egypt is one of the pioneering countries in terms of pharma industry localisation compared to other countries in the region, as local pharma production to consumption ratio in the Egyptian market is over 65 percent,” according to El-Dababi.
Despite that, there is still a deficit in the pharma trade balance in the region, as the sector’s imports surpass its exports by tenfold. Reversing this requires raising investments in the sector and its local manufacturing, said El-Dababi.
This will also require focusing on fair pricing, reducing the cost of the local production and providing production supplies locally, El-Dababi explained further.
He also added that localising the manufacture of vital drugs, such as vaccines and oncology drugs, represent opportunities for reducing reliance on imports.
Yet, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed, including the lack of clarity regarding long-term drug use that leads to hesitation from investors regarding the economic viability of the local manufacturing, according to El-Dababi.
“Thus, it is necessary to amend the regulations and laws that govern the annual tenders as well as developing long-term agreements that allows the tranquillity of the viability of transferring technology and investment to the local manufacturing, especially for the strategic drugs.”