UAE sets out plan to become major global pharma hub

Country aims to double number of drugs manufacturing factories by 2021, attract more pharma firms

The UAE has unveiled plans to establish itself as a global hub for international pharmaceutical companies, with the number of manufacturing factories set to double by 2021.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and Jafza, a DP World company, have signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector in the country.

Under the agreement, the UAE aims to attract more than 75 major pharmaceutical firms by 2021 up from the current 54 today, with investments of up to AED2 billion annually.

The number of drugs manufacturing factories is expected to grow from 17 to 34 in the same period.

The agreement is part of Jafza’s efforts to enhance the healthcare sector by providing the environment for companies to grow and establish Made in Dubai pharmaceutical products, a statement said.

It added that Jafza will develop details for the licensing of pharmaceutical factories within the Free Zone and help them promote public health.

Both organisations said they will exchange knowledge and remove any barriers to the development of the pharmaceutical sector in the Free Zone. They will also review the process of obtaining approvals and permits from the Ministry, enabling Jafza to attract more foreign investment in the sector.

DP World Group chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, said: “This is a major step forward in efforts to raise the competitiveness of the pharmaceutical industry in the country.

"The ultimate aim is to manufacture high quality medicines and healthcare products in Dubai comparable to those around the world with our focus on boosting investment in research and development, and attracting qualified professionals.”

In 2016, the market value of drugs in the UAE amounted to AED9.61 billion. By 2020, spending on medicine is expected to reach AED13.13 billion and by 2025 AED21.74 billion, driven by population growth, changing morbidity and the use of modern medicines such as biotechnology drugs, the statement said.

Multinational companies in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector are currently based in Jafza, such as Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, Roche, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Quest Vitamins.

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