In its first edition, Al-Ahram Pharmaceutical Exhibition and Conference discussed the challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry in Egypt.
The conference was held under the patronage of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and was attended by the ministers of health, public enterprise, environment, immigration, and higher education, in addition to figures from the pharmaceutical industry.
Chairman of the Board of Al-Ahram Establishment Abdel-Mohsen Salama said Egypt's pharmaceutical sector indices affirmed that Egypt had the potential to become a promising market for pharmaceutical production.
He said the pharmaceutical sector data showed that sales recorded EGP 44.7 billion in 2019, with a growth rate of eight percent, and were expected to reach EGP 56.6 billion by 2022.
He added that Egypt’s pharmaceutical exports volume was low in comparison to other regional countries' exports.
“Egypt is at the top of MENA countries with a population of 100 million, which makes it a large market for pharmaceuticals and healthcare services,” Salama stated.
He announced the formation of a committee comprising a number of the conference participants to submit the recommendations made at the conference to concerned bodies.
Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel-Ghafaar speaking at the conference
Health awareness and demand for medicine
Raouf Kokhirgi, a consultant for the MENA region at IQVIA, a leading company in applying data analysis in healthcare, said Egypt was expected to be a key driver of pharmaceutical industry growth in MENA into 2023.
Kokhirgi said pricing would be a significant driver of Egypt’s market growth in the short term, while volume growth would be the main driver of growth from 2020 onwards.
Adding to the growth in the pharmaceutical industry would be the introduction of the new universal health insurance scheme that is set to cover more densely populated areas, expansion of chain pharmacies, and ending surgery waiting lists for patients in the public sector.
He added that the rise in health awareness in Egypt, screening and diagnosis, reflected in the government's recent 100 million Healthy Lives Campaign, would increase demand on medicines.
“Egypt is expected to improve in global pharmaceuticals market rankings from 32 in 2019 to 21 in 2023," according to Kokhirgi.
He said Egypt was in line with China and India regarding the strong manufacturing reliance globally, standing at 79 percent, while India stood at 77.3 percent, and China 80 percent.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Hala Zayed said that the Egyptian pharmaceutical industry had recently succeeded in providing on-demand medications in the domestic market. She explained that domestic production accounts for 80 percent of market needs, making pharmaceutical production a strategic industry for the country.
“The health ministry has modified Decree 645/2018 to overcome the challenges the sector is facing, in addition to providing medications that are in shortage globally,” Zayed added.
She stated that the domestic industry was able to overcome insulin shortage in the local market, adding that Egypt delved into the cancer medications industry.
Zayed referred to the successful partnership between the government and the private sector to provide hepatitis C cures under the umbrella of 100 Million Healthy Lives campaign, before adding that Egypt received the first unified purchasing order on hepatitis C from a US unified purchasing corporation for an Asian country, furthering that such action put Egypt on the course to manufacturing pharmaceutical components.
“Strategic plans and the presidential initiatives in the health sector have contributed to the revival of the pharmaceutical industry in Egypt,” she added.
President of Ain Shams University and the conference, Mahmoud El-Metini, said the pharmaceutical industry is key to Egypt’s national security, "which was why medicines should be provided in reasonable prices and high quality."
He added that the national pharmaceutical industry provided 93 percent of the needs of the domestic market with a total of EGP 60 billion annually, and that there were 155 licensed pharmaceutical factories in Egypt.
But, El Mitini said, the pharmaceutical community was anticipating a new system of pricing to provide justice for players in the industry.
He added that Egypt’s annual exports recorded $250 million, while India's exports, for example, registered $25 billion, and Jordan $1.8 billion.
Head of the pharmaceutical division at the Egyptian Federation of the Chambers of Commerce Ali Auf said Egypt’s pharmaceutical industry was facing serious challenges, including the application of the value-added tax on all medications, which resulted in price hikes.
In addition, he said, the sector was the only manufacturing sector subject to tariffs, which have had a negative impact on the industry and weakened Egypt’s pharmaceutical exporting power.
He added that pharmaceutical registration and the pricing system needed to be streamlined with international standards to provide win-win investments in the industry.