Dubai: The UAE topped the list of countries with the best developed ecosystems for producing Halal pharmaceuticals, in terms of supply drivers, governance, awareness and pricing index, according to the latest State of Global Islamic Economy report.

The UAE was followed by Malaysia and Singapore.

The report, released on Sunday, stated that Muslims have been spending at least Dh286 billion a year on Halal pharmaceuticals. Individually, the top five Muslim pharmaceutical markets in terms of consumer spending are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Indonesia and Algeria, with a total value of Dh112.7 billion.

The multibillion-dollar Halal pharmaceutical industry is expected to expand further as the UAE-based International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) initiates global standardisation efforts.

“As consumer awareness gets stronger, the market demand for Halal pharmaceutical products continues to grow through the years. But for the longest time, no single entity with a comprehensive international presence had addressed the Sharia compliance needs of this segment. IHAF is committed in addressing these concerns with the support of various accreditation agencies across the globe,” Mohammad Saleh Badri, Secretary General of IHAF, said in a statement.

Standardisation scheme

According to the report, market growth opportunities are particularly seen in the manufacturing sector. However, a lack of strong and internationally recognised standardisation scheme is a barrier in the mass production of goods.

“Standardisation is also expected to increase investor interest. Based on latest studies, one of the major issues for Halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics was inadequate funding. Investor interest had been limited so far because the business itself was on a limited scale,” Badri said.

He added that growth in business will help draw more funding and allow Halal products to compete with non-Halal ones in the same category.

In pharmaceuticals, the IHAF standardisation exercise will first focus on vaccines and common medicines for cough, fever, and headaches. Creating standards for life-saving medicines would be taken up later.