The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accounts for 59.4 percent the purchases of pharmaceuticals products in the Gulf region. The market was estimated at USD 5.75 billion in 2017 and poised to grow at CAGR 6.7 percent, expected to reach USD 8.46 billion by 2023, according to a report published by Precision Business Insights.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the NTP’s priorities for job creation and economic diversification provided a strong incentive for both the private and public sector to develop the life sciences industry in general, and pharmaceuticals. Currently, only 30 percent of pharmaceutical products are manufactured locally. Major factors affecting the pharmaceutical market are the Kingdom’s growing population, the increase in per capita spending on health care services, and the propensity to prefer research-based products as opposed to purchase more expensive patented products. However, in recent years, the SAG’s efforts to curb pharmaceuticals expenditure and promote local manufacturing resulted in a fast and growing generics market. European, U.S., and Indian companies already have established production facilities -– especially, at the King Abdullah Economic Industrial Valley — producing a full range of products including antibiotics, diabetic treatments, cardiovascular drugs, and anticoagulants.
Opportunities abound for additional manufacturers to establish a presence in the Kingdom, especially in vaccines, APIs, injectables, and biologics.
In a recent move to demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s commitment to intellectual property protection, the Saudi Arabian Government (SAG) announced the establishment of the Saudi Intellectual Property Authority (SIPA) and launched the strategy of SIPA under the umbrella of Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI) in April 2018. Prior to that, Saudi Arabia undertook a comprehensive revision of its laws covering intellectual property rights to bring them in line with the WTO agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). However, due to concerns regarding recent deteriorations in IP protection for pharmaceutical products, in addition to outstanding concerns regarding multiple IP enforcement issues, Saudi Arabia was placed in the Special 301 Watch List in April 2018.
Pharmaceuticals for diabetic care, cardiovascular, antibiotics, and cancer treatment offer the best prospects.In light of Saudi Arabia’s current focus on job creation and economic diversification, the export and shipping of pharmaceutical products into the Saudi market no longer translates into commercial success. Local production, technology transfer, conducting clinical trials locally, and the training/education of the Saudi labor force are becoming the new normal in the life sciences/pharmaceutical products industry. The 2030 Vision and NTP identified the Industrial Clusters (IC) as the lead government entity to develop five industrial sectors including the pharmaceutical and biotech industry.
- Accordingly, the IC has identified the following opportunities in the pharmaceuticals industry:
- Biologics and Biosimilars
- Vaccine Formulation Fill and Finish (FFF)
- Sterile Injectables (SI)
- Solid Oral Dosage
- Active Pharmaceuticals Ingredients (API)
- Plasma Production
- Bioequivalence Testing Center
Saudi government Web links:
General Investment Authority
Global Health Exhibition, September 10-12, 2019, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Arab Health, January 28 – 31, 2019, Dubai, UAE