Cara Turner, Brand Director — Pharma, Informa Markets, the organizers of the CPhI Middle East and Africa exhibition, said: “Saudi Arabia is one of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the Middle East, and its expansion over recent years can be attributed to a growing population, an increase in non-communicable diseases and strong state support for health services, with major government investment in new hospitals and clinics”.

According to UN figures, Saudi Arabia’s population stands at an estimated 34 million, 32% of which are under 14 years and is growing at around 2% annually. Life expectancy has increased from 69 years in 1990 to over 75 years today. Saudi Arabia covers 2.15 million sq. km and Riyadh and Jeddah are home to 6.5 and four million residents respectively, almost a third of the entire population, creating their own unique healthcare dynamics. This is in sharp contrast to over 12 million Saudis who live in isolated or sparsely populated areas, challenging consistent healthcare delivery.

In addition, the rise in non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, which tend to require long-term treatment and medication. Many of these diseases are a consequence of poor lifestyle choices, but alarmingly over 35,000 children have been diagnoses with Type 1 diabetes placing the Kingdom in the top four countries worldwide in terms of incidence.

“To address these issues, in 2019 alone, the Saudi government introduced a 17% increase ($45.86 billion) in funds allocated for spending on health and social development — with approximately $12.72 billion earmarked for spending on healthcare projects directly linked to Saudi’s Vision 2030,” added Turner.

At present pharmaceuticals manufactured overseas continue to account for the majority of the market – with around just 20% of the drugs consumed in the country made locally. The government, conscious of the growing costs of imported pharmaceuticals, along with the MoH and other health service providers has implemented long-term development strategies in a bid to promote local medicines. Turner said: “Under the National Transformation Programme (NTP), the kingdom is working to boost the proportion of local manufacturing in the pharma-sector to approximately 40% by the end of 2020. While, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has been tasked with further localising the industry, both in terms of sources and in employment.”

Part of 641 issue - September 19. All rights reserved except agreement written by Emballage Digest or mention of the magazine