CPC's governance experience inspirational for developing countries, Arab officials say    CIB receives 1st Gender Equity Seal in MENA region, co-chairs Egypt's Closing Gender Gap Accelerator    Altibbi launches first Arabic app thriving with reproductive health in Egypt    Egypt's Nile revenue committee discusses water resources management during peak demand    Egypt, US discuss developments of GERD talks    Egypt, Turkey conclude 'frank, in-depth' talks to restore relations    FAB completes share transfer process to acquire Bank Audi Egypt    IFC directs $421m investments to Egypt's private sector during 2020    Manfalout sanitation plant starts trial operation within 38k-cbm-capacity project    Egypt, Russia sign declaration marking 2021-2022 as year of joint humanitarian exchange    Elneny's Arsenal targets 'remontada' in Europa League semi-finals    Zamalek eye return to victories at expense of Smouha in Egyptian Premier League    Al Ahly face injuries as they take on Al Ittihad Alexandria    Egypt PMI drops in April to lowest level in 9 months    German Ambassador to Egypt inspects New Alamein City projects    Companies have until 15 May to join e-invoice system: Finance Minister    Arab Parliament calls for Ethiopian response to ongoing efforts on GERD crisis    Small businesses inspiring good this Ramadan    BREAKING: Egypt sets new shop hours amid third coronavirus wave fears    There should be a balance between population, economic growth rates: Sisi    Egypt buys 30 Rafale fighter jets from France    Turkey wants to improve its trade relationship with Egypt    Saudi Arabia reveals new archaeological discovery 'older than Egypt Pyramids'    TV show 'COVID-25' tops Egypt's Twitter trends after premiere    Direct flights between Russia and Egypt will resume in June, Ambassador    Alexandria Festival of Francophone Cinema to take place 18-23 June    Egypt sends 30 tonnes of medical supplies to India amid pandemic crisis    Egypt's Ahly is establishing a new stadium, expected to be 'sports complex'    Blinken presses Ethiopia's Abiy to ensure full withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray    Forces opposed to Somali president control parts of Mogadishu    Nine people executed in Egypt over Kerdasa police killings in 2013    UEFA investigating Ibrahimovic's alleged ties to betting company    61 doctors died from coronavirus since start of April: Egypt's medical syndicate    Egypt targets 5.6% inflation rate in FY2020/21, 6% in FY2021/22    Egypt allocates EGP 132 bln to modernise railway system: Transport minister    Real Madrid not thinking about any Super League sanctions: Zidane    Total declares force majeure on Mozambique LNG after attacks    All the winners at the 93rd Academy Awards    Egypt's Ahly granted approval to build new stadium on Cairo outskirts    Aswan Int'l Women's Film Festival dedicates 5th edition to Kawthar Heikal    BREAKING: Egypt's information minister Osama Heikal resigns amid parliamentary criticism    'War was not Egypt's aim, but peace was the ultimate goal,' Sisi says on Sinai Liberation Day anniversary    Factbox: Key nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    Veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed passes away at 86    Allianz Egypt partners with IGNITE to equip brand ambassadors for 2021 Olympics    Hassan Allam consortium wins contract to manage, operate Grand Egyptian Museum    Seasoned Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed dies at 76    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Huge potential for pharmaceuticals
Published in Ahram Online on 20 - 04 - 2021

Sales of Egyptian pharmaceuticals rose by 11 per cent in 2019, and on a global scale the pharmaceuticals sector grew by three per cent in 2020 aided by the Covid-19 pandemic, even if most pharmaceuticals markets saw a retreat in sales, said Ahmed Al-Ezaby, chair of the Pharmaceuticals Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries.
Al-Ezaby was speaking about Egypt's being an extremely attractive market for investment in pharmaceuticals and the country's enormous potential for exports. He expects sales to bounce back to rates similar to those of 2019 and to grow by between 10 and 15 per cent.
In 2020, sales of Egyptian pharmaceuticals recorded LE125 billion. Some LE90 billion of this was chalked up to the private sector, while the rest, some LE35 billion, was earned by state-owned companies, according to figures released by the cabinet.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi also inaugurated the first city dedicated to manufacturing medicines in Egypt and the Middle East on 180,000 square metres of land earlier this month, underlining Egypt's goal of acquiring further industrial and technological capacity in the pharmaceuticals industry and to attract further international investment.
The new pharmaceuticals city will work according to the highest quality standards in order to guarantee the acquisition of the quality certificates that will make it easier for Egyptian products to access foreign markets.
In his comments to Al-Ahram Weekly, Al-Ezaby stressed there was a difference between manufacturing finished pharmaceuticals and producing raw ingredients known as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The latter can require more meticulous work and larger investments, he said. Egypt has begun producing APIs at the Nasr Company for Pharmaceutical Chemicals.
However, the country faces formidable competition from the mass production policies of India and China, diminishing the Nasr Company's ability to compete internationally, Al-Ezaby said.
Even so, the coronavirus pandemic has underlined the need for at least a portion of APIs to be locally manufactured, with the wisdom of depending solely on importing APIs, with the possibility of disruption in supplies, being questioned. Al-Ezaby said that factories manufacturing APIs should be set up in Egypt, as global developments and currency fluctuations could affect imports of raw materials.
"Egypt's pharmaceutical sector is conducting serious studies on the establishment of factories to produce APIs. A group of investors is studying market needs, the number of factories that could be built, and the investments expected to be pumped in," he said, expecting that the studies would be concluded by the end of the year and the factories constructed within two-and-a-half years.
He said that this did not mean that the country would necessarily be able to produce a full range of pharmaceutical products or all the APIs it needs. However, it would mean that it would be able to become self-sufficient in necessary drugs, such as those used to treat diabetes and hypertension and certain antibiotics, Al-Ezaby said.
Investment in Egypt's pharmaceutical sector has reached LE300 billion, he added, saying that 90 per cent of this has been in the private sector and the rest in state-owned facilities. Foreign investment has comprised 20 per cent of the total, with the remaining 80 per cent being Egyptian.
"These indicators render the Egyptian pharmaceutical sector extremely attractive to investment. The country's population is huge, crossing the 100 million mark, and every year more than two million more babies are born," Al-Ezaby said.
There are 152 pharmaceutical factories operating in Egypt, of which eight are state-owned and five are owned by foreign companies, he added. "In the next three years, 40 factories — all currently being built — will access the Egyptian market."
The Egyptian pharmaceutical sector is trying to shift from manufacturing traditional drugs to more complex and more profitable ones including ones that use advanced biotechnology to access foreign markets, Al-Ezaby said.
Large pharmaceutical companies have begun to set up smaller concerns to produce traditional medicines so that they can devote themselves to the manufacture of higher-priced and more profitable drugs.
Egypt currently produces 88 per cent of its needs for pharmaceuticals and imports 12 per cent. It is entering a new phase after the cabinet approved a new law regulating medical research at the end of 2020.
"The sector is targeting the medical industries, which require mega-investments in biotechnology production lines," Al-Ezaby stated.
Drug prices in Egypt have been almost stagnant over the past two decades, he said, but over the last few years prices have been increased by the Egyptian Drugs Authority to maintain a balance between the costs of production and the final prices of products.
Increasing the prices of medicines is one of the factors that could increase the value of pharmaceutical exports, today estimated at less than $350 million, Al-Ezaby said. But "Egypt has the potential to export drugs worth more $5 billion annually to East Africa, the Arab world, Eastern Europe, and the Central Asian countries."
He said that Egypt's Universal Health Insurance System would increase investment in the sector since the state supports private-sector hospitals and pharmacies in the scheme. Citizens currently shoulder 80 per cent of the cost of medicines, while the state pays 20 per cent. Under the new system, the government will pay 80 per cent and the citizen 20 per cent, Al-Ezaby said.
The Universal Health Insurance system is scheduled to cover the whole country by 2030.
Egypt first began to export medicines as a result of steps taken by economist and industrialist Talaat Harb in 1939. Until the late 1970s, many medicines available in pharmacies were composed by the pharmacist according to standard recipes that explained the way to manufacture a drug and its side effects, Al-Ezaby said.
Until the 1960s, Egypt also had high-calibre technical facilities, but these lost their competitive edge when they were absorbed by the Ministry of Health. Things have been looking brighter over the past five years, Al-Ezaby commented.
The sector began to improve in the late 1990s when private-sector companies pumped in new investments, in addition to those poured in by state-owned companies EIPICO and Pharco, he explained.
Al-Ezaby said he was hopeful about procedures adopted over the past three years, including measures to eliminate counterfeit drugs, estimated at less than one per cent of the market.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 22 April, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Clic here to read the story from its source.