Shire's move comes as rare diseases said to impact 2.8 million people in the Middle East
A big name in the global biotech industry has opened new offices in Dubai as the UAE seeks annual pharmaceutical investments of AED3 billion ($820 million) by 2021.
Shire plc, a leader in the research of rare diseases, said the new site will serve as a regional hub for its Eurasia, Middle East and Africa operations, overseeing a network of 10 local offices and activity spanning 30 countries.
Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary of Public Health Policy and Licensing at the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, hailed the move, saying: "Shire’s position as the global biotech leader in rare diseases will help us to develop solutions together for the UAE and the wider EAMEA region.”
The company said nearly one in 20 people living in the region suffer from rare diseases, many of them children.
It added that the Dubai hub will support Shire’s commitment to accelerating access to life-changing rare disease treatments for patients by helping to strengthen relationships with stakeholders in academic research, clinical practice, regulatory affairs and medical innovation.
It is estimated that around 350 million people worldwide are affected by rare diseases – an estimated 2.8 million of them are across the Middle East.
With 24,000 employees worldwide, Shire brings more than 40 therapies to patients in over 100 countries and invests over $1.4 billion.
Al Amiri said: "We are delighted that Shire has chosen the United Arab Emirates to be the regional hub for its EAMEA operations and share their ambition and commitment to create innovative healthcare solutions that benefit the underserved rare-disease patient community."
Earlier this year, the UAE 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 total number in the UAE is currently 47 offices, with plans to increase this to 75 by 2021, where investments will exceed AED3 billion annually.
There are 18 drug production plants in the UAE with that number expected to increase to 34 over the same period.
Dr Ramsey Morad, vice president, Shire Eurasia, Middle East and Africa, added: “Our ambition at Shire is to change the future for people with rare diseases and we’re working hard to accelerate patient access to our next-generation therapies.”
Morad said that of the 7,000 known rare diseases, only 5 percent have a treatment.