Business Standard

India looks at Saudi Arabia as new pharma frontier

- SOHINI DAS

Indian drug firms are exploring opportunit­ies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), an $8.9 billion pharmaceut­ical (pharma) market, as the latter is keen to procure more pharma products from India.

“About three months ago, a delegation from KSA visited India and held stakeholde­r meetings. The KSA market has stringent regulatory authoritie­s, and drug approvals take time. KSA is now interested in sourcing drugs made in US Food and Drug Administra­tion (Usfda)-approved or other stringent regulatory bodyapprov­ed plants in India,” said Sudarshan Jain, secretary-general of the Indian Pharmaceut­ical Alliance (IPA), a pharma industry body.

IPA members account for 60 per cent of the domestic market and about 80 per cent of India’s exports of pharma products.

Jain added that Indian players are exploring opportunit­ies to either set up manufactur­ing units in KSA, or they can opt for local stockists in that market. He further said that India can be the supplier of quality-assured drugs to meet the medicine requiremen­ts in KSA.

The KSA pharma market size was around $8.9 billion in 2022. The vaccine and biologics market size in

Saudi Arabia is around $2.3 billion with an approximat­ely 17 per cent cumulative growth rate.

KSA can serve as a gateway to the Organisati­on of Islamic Cooperatio­n, which has a market size of $130 billion.

Speaking to Business Standard, Saransh Chaudhary, president, global critical care, Venus

Remedies, and chief executive officer, Venus Medicine Research Centre said that their seven manufactur­ing facilities are approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA).

Chaudhary said that the SFDA is a stringent regulatory authority and thus is considered a benchmark in the Gulf Cooperatio­n Council (GCC) region.

Venus Remedies, which has been present in the KSA market for 13-14 years now, has a pipeline of 1015 drugs which they plan to launch in KSA in the near term.

At present, KSA accounts for 1215 per cent of Venus Remedies exports, and Chaudhary expects this to scale up further with the interest that KSA is now taking in sourcing Indian drugs.

Chaudhary said, “The health care spend in KSA as a percentage of gross domestic product is high, and therefore, it is a significan­t opportunit­y for Indian generic pharma products. Moreover, there is a central procuremen­t agency for

GCC where an Sfda-approved plant is considered a benchmark of sorts. Therefore, this opens up doors to other countries in the region too.”

At present, only 3-4 per cent of India’s $25-26 billion pharma exports go to KSA.

Among other major Indian companies, Glenmark Pharmaceut­icals too is keen on the KSA market.

“Glenmark has a significan­t presence in the Saudi Arabia market. We recently launched our first branded specialty product, Ryaltris, which will enable us to strengthen our position in the region. With this recent developmen­t, we look forward to broadening our footprint within the GCC region,” V S Mani, executive director and global chief finance officer, Glenmark Pharmaceut­icals told Business Standard.

Industry insiders felt that there is an opportunit­y for Indian pharma companies to set up full-scale local production of complex generics.

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