Historically, the UAE has relied upon the importation of medicines from the international market. However, with government support for local manufacturers, local companies now have a unique opportunity to produce locally-manufactured medications and treatments. Madhukar Tanna, CEO of newcomer Pharmax Pharmaceuticals explores the reasons behind the recent boom in the UAE’s pharmaceutical sector and how Dubai is becoming a hub for innovation in healthcare.
According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association Gulf Forum, the pharmaceutical market in the UAE is expected to grow from AED 9.61 billion in 2016 to AED14.11 billion by 2020, with key drivers including increased healthcare spend, mandatory health insurance, and growing medical tourism.
In 2014, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched Dubai Plan 2021 to reinforce the Emirate’s position as an
international leader across a number of sectors. This followed the November 2014 announcement by the UAE government that 2015 would be the ‘Year of Innovation’, promoting the UAE as a global pioneer in innovation alongside the introduction of the ambitious National Innovation Strategy.
June 2016 saw another strategic framework announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with the launch of Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, further driving Dubai to become a global
platform for knowledge-based, sustainable, and innovationfocused businesses. Among the six priority sectors identified in the strategy are pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, due to their importance to Dubai Plan 2021 and future growth potential.
The Social Impact
Locally produced generic medications offer a more affordable option to patients’ and health insurance companies for a number of reasons. Firstly, although generic drugs are chemically equivalent to the branded alternatives, they are often less expensive as there are fewer costs incurred in creating them, enabling generic manufacturers to maintain a profit while charging a lower price to consumers.
Help with Lifestyle Disease
Increased access to treatment, whether through health insurance or more affordable prices, will make it easier for patients’ to obtain the medications they need. The International Diabetes Federation revealed that the prevalence of diabetes in the UAE is rising at a faster rate than the rest of the MENA region and the rest of the world. The number of people in the UAE suffering from diabetes is expected to double, reaching 2.2 million by 2040. However, with increased access to affordable generic medication, this condition can be managed. By offering affordable, locallyproduced medications, patients’ will have greater access to treatment.