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Crisis forces European drugmakers to enter GCC

Pharmaceuticals market in the Gulf estimated at $8.5 billion

Gulf News

Dubai: Spanish drugmaker Cinfa yesterday launched operations in the UAE — making a strong foray in the Gulf’s $8.5 billion (Dh31.19 billion) pharmaceuticals market — with a tie-up with Modern Pharmacy.

Only 20 per cent of the Gulf’s pharmaceutical products are generic drugs, while in Europe this is about 50 per cent.

“We see a lot of growth potential in the generic drug segment in the UAE and the GCC,” Enrique Ordiers Sagarminaga, President of Cinfa, told Gulf News yesterday. “After the UAE, we are planning to enter the GCC and the Middle East Market.”

The Gulf’s pharmaceuticals market size is estimated at $8.5 billion, according to a latest report by Alpen Capital. It accounts for less than 1 per cent of the global pharmaceutical sector, valued at $955.5 billion in 2012.

The global financial crisis and regional debt problems induced European drug manufacturers to focus on the relatively emerging Gulf market. As a result, between 2008 and 2011, pharmaceutical imports from the European Union (EU) into the GCC expanded at a compound annual growth rate of 18.3 per cent,” Alpen Capital said in the report.

Sanjay Vig, Managing Director, Alpen Capital, said, “The absence of new molecules is pushing global majors to enter the generic drug space. As a result, we see a surge in global companies entering the regional markets through joint ventures with local manufacturers.”

Cinfa, a 44-year-old company run by 2,800 pharmacists that last year recorded a €335 million (Dh1.62 billion) turnover, is the latest European company to enter the GCC pharmaceutical market.

Price of medicine is perceived to be on the high in the GCC, consumers allege.

Sagarminaga said, his company’s products are at least 30 per cent cheaper than the comparable products. “We offer high-quality medicine with affordable price. Our products are 30-50 per cent cheaper that most drugs,” he said.