Cheaper medicines to be made in UAE

Published July 18th, 2013 - 08:55 GMT
Currently, only 940 drugs from the registered 6,868 are made in the UAE
Currently, only 940 drugs from the registered 6,868 are made in the UAE

More generic, cheaper medicines for common conditions like hypertension and cholesterol will be available within two years following a landmark decision by the UAE Ministry of Health. Currently, only 940 drugs from the registered 6,868 are made in the UAE.

As per the ministry’s resolution, 14 pharmaceutical manufacturers in the UAE are now permitted to start clinical studies on patented drugs nearing patency expiration.

The resolution will ensure that generic versions of a patented drug will be available in the market as soon as the patented drug’s patent term ends.

A senior official from the ministry said the resolution will benefit consumers by providing access to generic, cheaper drugs and give manufacturers an edge as they will be able to market the product as soon as the term of the patented drug ends.

Manufacturers in the UAE will begin to import active ingredients of patented drugs. Those contacted by Gulf News said they were jubilant with the new resolution, and expected up to 40 per cent increase in generic medicines.

Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, Dr Ameen Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Medical Practices and Licensing at the ministry, explained that when an innovative product is introduced and patented globally, it has market exclusivity for 20 years.

He said, “When this patent term ends, other manufacturers can begin making, marketing and selling a generic version of the drug. However, generic market entry is often delayed because a manufacturer has to invest up to 18-24 months for clinical study and research before marketing the generic drug.”

He said that generic products, which contain the same active ingredients as the original formulation, tend to be priced significantly lower. This is because of a combination of factors including market competition in the absence of patents and lower costs from manufacturing a drug that has already been developed and tested.

Dr Al Amiri added, “Consumers will benefit from the lower priced alternatives and immediate access whereas manufacturers in the UAE can immediately sell the drug the moment a drug’s patent term ends. Through the resolution we saved them money and time. The move also supports the pharmaceutical industry in the UAE.” Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Mariam Galadari, committee member for Global Pharma, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Dubai and board member of the Emirates Medical Association, said, “The time window will allow pharmaceutical manufacturers to conduct their feasibility studies and prepare for the market.”

Dr Galadari estimated that there will be a 20 per cent increase in generic medicines for control of diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension.

Dr B.R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO of Abu-Dhabi-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company Neopharma, told Gulf News that the resolution is a great opportunity to get generic versions of life-saving drugs.

“We are looking at more than 15 patented drugs including life-saving drugs. Once on the market, UAE residents can benefit from the lower prices. I expect up to 40 per cent increase in generic medicines,” he said.

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