Abu Dhabi, UAE: Residents from across the UAE and the Gulf region may soon benefit from access to cheaper medicines, following the signing of a long-term partnership agreement on Monday between UAE-based pharmaceutical company Neopharma and American firm Pfizer.
The agreement will allow for the production of Pfizer medicines at the Neopharma production plant in Abu Dhabi, and the first of these are expected to be available in 2015, senior executives announced at a press conference.
"The partnership supports the UAE’s health-care strategy, … and it will also enable Pfizer to transfer skills and knowledge locally," said Dr Zeydan Abuissa, country manager and Pfizer global established pharma Lead, Gulf and Levant.
Although details about the exact drugs to be manufactured were not available, medicines for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension, are among those that will be produced.
Chronic diseases are a major concern in the UAE, which has a particularly high rate of diabetes and obesity. Cardiovascular diseases are also the top killer in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, according to statistics by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad).
Pfizer, as one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, produces a host of drugs that are sold in the UAE.
One example is Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication that Neopharma hopes to make soon, Dr B.R. Shetty, chief executive officer at Neopharma, NMC Healthcare and UAE Exchange, told Gulf News.
"The main advantage of the agreement is the assured availability of medicines, regardless of factors like international exchange rate fluctuations. The price of the medicines we produce will be set after discussions with the Ministry of Health, but I can say that they will definitely be much less than the present cost," he added.
Neopharma currently produces about 100 different drugs at a 100,000 square metre facility in Musaffah. The company has previously entered into partnerships with other international pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing medicines such as Glucophage by Merck Serono.
Dr Abuissa said the companies were awaiting approval from the UAE Ministry of Health, and would then begin production.
"We will also ensure that the products meet all quality standards expected of Pfizer medicines," he added.
© Gulf NewsMay 2014