Pharma experts discuss GCC $1.55 billion generics market at Abu Dhabi event

Domestic production accounts for approximately 45% of drug consumption in the Middle East; 15% market CAGR between 2009 and 2016

The emergence of a strong generics sector is accelerating growth in the Middle East and Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, according to participants in the first Advisory Board meeting for the inaugural CPhI Middle East & Africa, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 3-5 September 2018.  


Highlighting the government-driven opportunities for new players in the market, Claudia Palme, Advisory Board Member and Managing Director, 55east said: “The countries that have traditionally driven development in the past, such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the Gulf State have agendas to further fuel access to healthcare and balance financial demands, while providing a high-level standard of care. The less affluent countries in the region are looking to find solid, high-quality affordable specialty generics to upgrade their health care systems.”

Regional governments’ spending on pharmaceuticals is concentrated on addressing diabetes, heart disease and cancer caused by rising obesity rates, which have almost tripled since 1975. Elsewhere, ageing populations – a result of better medical care earlier in life – require the introduction of new treatments and medicines and the region is also focused on reducing the number of stillbirths and introducing new vaccination programs.

“Receiving a direct boost from government policy and the emergence of new age manufacturing facilities, the region’s generics sector has performed well over recent years. Domestic production accounts for approximately 45% of drug consumption in the Middle East, with generics in the GCC alone valued at $1.55 billion in 2016, following CAGR of 15% between 2009 and 2016,” commented Cara Turner, Brand Manager – Pharma, UBM.

In Africa, generics is one of the most vibrant sectors of the pharmaceutical market, worth $4 billion and expected to reach values of $18 billion by 2020, following annual growth of 22%.

Further comparisons drawn from a new report from MarketLine predicts that the global generics market will achieve double-digit growth through 2021, following its 2016 market valuation of $318 billion.

MEA government incentives have actively encouraged local and regional manufacturers to scale up operations, resulting in larger product portfolios to fulfil national needs and reduce overall manufacturing overheads. Capitalising on the trend, US and EU firms are now entering the market with greater ease through contract manufacturing.

With an eye on growth markets, developers and researchers from outside the region are leveraging the MEA’s modern facilities to ease market access and reduce costs, compared to manufacturing in the EU.

In the UAE, a national health strategy to decrease the cost of medicine and limit the country’s escalating healthcare bill, has seen the Ministry of Health (MoH) working to increase the number of generic drug manufacturing facilities in the country to 30 by 2020.

Manel Chikh, Board Member and Co-Founder and CEO of Zaphyr Pharmaceuticals, said: “Government policies and efforts across the MEA region to reduce drug expenditure whilst simultaneously improving access to quality and cost-effective medicines for patients has resulted in the strong performance of generics. Affordability will be the key consideration for both payers and patients, and the most cost-effective options will typically be generics.”

In turn, a manufacturing boost is supporting the MEA industry to increase access to innovative drugs, diagnostics and treatments, meaning many FDA and EU approved medicines can be commercialised in as little as a few months in some countries.

Palme and Chikh were joined on the board by AbdelFattah Irsheid, Area Manager Middle East, Laboratorios Ordesa; Mustafa Rasheed, Head of Professional Services, Client Education, Clarivate Analytics; and Jerome Carle, General Manager, Julphar.

CPhI Middle East & Africa, which is supported by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Science Park and ExpoLink, is the region’s leading platform bringing together pharma product manufacturers, suppliers and buyers from every step of the pharma supply chain, including drug research and discovery to finished dosage.

Over 200 local, regional and international exhibitors from more than 30 countries are expected to attend, indeed demand has been so robust that an additional 300 square metres (6%) of space has been added to the exhibition floor – 5,000 pharma professionals are expected to participate in the three-day show, around half of which will come be from the MEA region.

Running in parallel with the exhibition will be a range of content sessions addressing the latest market trends in the MEA, delivered through a number of keynote presentations, as well as a host of networking opportunities.  

CPhI Middle East & Africa takes place from 3-5 September 2018, at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi, with its co-located events ICSE, P-MEC, InnoPack and FDF.

To find out more about CPhI Middle East & Africa, visit or if you’d like register for free to attend the event;   

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