Imports of most products Germany-based pharmaceuticals maker Boehringer Ingelheim ships into the GCC region have grown steadily year on year with demand highest among formulations dealing with chronic diseases linked to malnutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle, the company says.
The broad range covers relievers for respiratory and diabetes ailments, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions as well as anti-Parkinson and anti-platelet aggregation medications and consumer health products such as multivitamins.
Mohammed Al Tawil, general manager, Near East and Middle East, listed the top sellers as anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, respiratory and anti-platelet aggregation medications.
In terms of volume, respiratory (mainly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) medications rank on top, followed by anti-hypertension and anti-platelet aggregation. Next were anti-inflammatory and multivitamins products.
Boehringer has a regional office in Dubai and operates through 37 agents in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Al Tawil described the company’s respiratory, cardiovascular, anti-platelet aggregation and multivitamin products as “competition beating” in the Gulf, adding that its diabetes solutions introduced recently in some states could be similarly regarded.
The official said Boehringer had seen a spurt in sales between 2008 and 2013 because of continued government investment to modernise and expand healthcare infrastructure to make high-quality treatment more accessible. Private health coverage had grown with governments introducing new laws making health insurance mandatory for all expatriates. Other reasons Al Tawil cited were rising economies in the GCC and decisions by big multinational drug makers to enter into joint ventures with domestic players to establish production units in the region.
Boehringer is the most recent example of the latter, having entered into a tripartite agreement with Cigalah, a distributor, and Tabuk, a manufacturer, for local production in Saudi Arabia. “With this contract, Cigalah and Tabuk will manage and drive complex secondary packaging projects of 26 products for Boehringer Ingelheim from the starting point until full implementation to become finished goods,” said Al Tawil. Production should start before the end of this year.
Tawil believes local pharmaceutical production in Saudi Arabia satisfies only 15 per cent of overall demand leaving imports to account for the remainder demand. “This partnership marks an attempt to plug in the import demand by making global quality medicines of Boehringer Ingelheim locally available in Saudi Arabia, while enhancing access to medications,” commented Tawil. Production from the facility will be sold only in Saudi Arabia.