(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) Under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chairman of Neopharma, global pharmaceutical, Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Germany, and a local manufacturer, Neopharma, announced today the first partnership of its kind to locally produce Merck branded medication in the UAE for distribution across the Middle East.
Under the agreement announced on the occasion of the UAE's 41st National Day, Merck Serono will be the first multinational pharmaceutical company to work with a local manufacturer to cater to regional demand for key pharmaceutical products through export out of the UAE manufacturing base.
Initially, two Merck Serono products will be manufactured by Neopharma: Euthyrox , a hormone therapy requiring a very stringent sterile environment for production and packaging, and Glucophage a standard oral treatment for people suffering from type 2 diabetes that helps control blood sugar levels. Production of both branded medications will begin in 2013.
Sheikh Nahyan commented on the significance of this announcement and its impact on the nation, "Currently valued at approximately 1.4 billion and growing at 6.8 per cent annually, the UAE pharmaceutical market is one of the most developed markets in the Middle East, with a strong healthcare infrastructure and the highest per-capita medicine expenditure in the region." "This partnership characterises our country's rapidly developing healthcare industry and improved production capabilities, putting it on-par with international standards of pharmaceutical production." "Through this partnership, Merck Serono and Neopharma, with the support of the Ministry of Health, will exchange relevant knowledge to produce Merck-branded medicines, tying into the UAE government's efforts towards developing quality within the pharmaceutical sector", said Stefan Oschmann, Merck Serono CEO. "We believe that this partnership will optimize our service to patients in the region." "After careful consideration of the production capabilities of various companies across the Middle East, we identified Neopharma as having the most advanced, European-standard manufacturing facilities capable of producing significant quantities of both hormone and regular pharmaceutical drug products," he added.
Traditionally the local manufacturing sector in the UAE has been relatively small and focuses on basic medicines. Until this alliance, the market relied on imports for pharmaceutical prescriptions. In 2010, nearly 64 per cent of pharmaceutical imports came from Europe, around eight per cent from North America and another eight per cent from the MENA region.
Dr B. R. Shetty, Managing Director '&' CEO of Neopharma, said: "Unlike many pharmaceutical plants that were set up earlier in the UAE, our facility in Abu Dhabi is built on the concept of modular manufacturing and follows global benchmarks in manufacturing technology and efficient control methods, ensuring the Merck medicines will be made with the highest quality standards. Through transfer of knowledge, we will have the technical capabilities to produce more complex medicines, such as hormone therapies like Merck's Euthyrox ." The UAE suffers from one of the highest prevalence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, approximately 827,000 people between the ages of 20 and 79 with diabetes in the UAE. This alliance will provide increased supply of trusted branded medicines needed to help ease the diabetes crisis which is straining the financial resources of the UAE.
A significant part of global production for Glucophage is currently imported from Europe to the Middle East, by far Merck's largest market for the diabetes drug. With this partnership, lead time for product-to-market will reduce significantly, increasing availability of major treatments for the UAE and region and increasing sales volumes for Merck.