In Saudi Arabia “the population is growing and the prevalence of chronic diseases specially is very high,” Boehringer spokesperson Julia Löffelsend told in-Pharmatechnologist.com. “The local production satisfies only 15% of the demand and imports account for 85% of the domestic market.”
Such an environment places Saudi Arabia as a key focus for large pharma firms, as well as the Middle-East in general, she continued, and therefore Boehringer has teamed with local companies Cigalah and Tabuk in order to “drive complex secondary packaging projects of 26 products for Boehringer Ingelheim from the starting point until full implementation to become finished goods.”
This include 26 products from Boehringer’s pipeline ranging from different classes of anti-hypertensive, oral anti-coagulant, COPD management, anti-inflammatory, and anti-parkinson drugs, with Cigaleh contracted for the secondary packaging with authority to implement and conduct the packaging production at Tabuk’s facilities.
According to Löffelsend, the tripartite agreement is just the first milestone towards Boehringer Ingelheim’s planned future local primary manufacturing in the kingdom, which already boasts the largest number of local pharmaceutical manufacturing plants among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, totalling 27 with investment of $619m (€444m).
Boehringer’s contract comes just weeks after AbbVie announced it intends to form a strategic partnership with the Saudi government, having teamed up with local firm Arabio for the secondary production of its blockbuster biologic Humira.
Whilst the Saudi Kingdom is attracting attention from pharma firms, we asked Löffelsend what challenges were needed to be overcome for the multinational to reach the market.
“Main challenges faced were to find the right partner and the local capabilities to produce the exact quality matching our products globally within the international standards,” she said, “which we overcame through our partnership with Tabouk and Cigalah.
“As for the cultural challenges, the management of the project was managed through Boehringer Ingelheim regional office in Dubai which was able to manage it locally with our local partners in KSA.”
Furthermore, she continued, the “Saudi government and health authorities welcome local manufacturing and give special privileges for pharmaceutical firms who decide to invest in local production.”