Dubai Science Park aims to localise the pharma supply chain
In Dubai Science Park, the emirate’s primary hub for the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, there are now 19 factories producing 1,500 different types of medication and medical instruments and equipment.
“There are a further 17 factories in the pipeline and by 2021 we will have 36 pharmaceutical factories. When you look at the size of our population, just 10-million, relative to the pharma production capacity of the country, it puts us in the number one spot for the MENA region,” says Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary of Public Health Policy & Licensing at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, who reels off statistics like an auctioneer at Sotheby's.
“Around 95% of the global pharmaceutical companies have a base in the UAE, which gives them logistics access to 43 countries worldwide,” he adds. “They have invested AED 3.6-billion, and of that 20% is dedicated to R&D, which is what the UAE government has been emphasising.”
Because of this, the UAE is one of the leading countries worldwide for pharma production and logistics. Its home to 47 scientific offices, which Al Amiri says proves the regulations and legislation of the country is attractive to these companies. “We are the fourth-fastest country in the world for the speed at which we approve and register domestically produced drugs, new medicines are registered in just two months,” he adds.
These developments present huge opportunities for the logistics sector, according to Richard Bell, managing director, RHS Logistics. “In the coming years, Dubai will attract huge investments in the pharmaceutical industry. Around 90% of pharmaceutical imports into Dubai are generic pharma products,” he says. “This constitutes a considerable percentage that pharma companies will want to exploit to shorten their supply chain.”
These companies will of course need a reliable logistics partner to store and distribute the product for them, which is why Dubai Science Park is looking to make itself a one-stop-shop for the industry. “Dubai Science Park believes in creating the entire value chain for companies, by that I mean starting with innovation and R&D, to manufacturing and production, to testing in laboratories, marketing and promotion and finally logistics and distribution,” says Marwan Abdulaziz, managing director, Dubai Science Park.
“Obviously we cannot provide everything yet, but the first few steps for us is in creating the foundations for this value chain in one community,” he adds. “We have done that for R&D with our laboratory buildings, we’ve done that with zones specifically for manufacturing, offices that are for sales and marketing and warehouses for logistics.”
Providing logistics services to the pharma sector is no small undertaking, though, as Hall points out. “Pharma logistics providers should explore this business opportunity by investing in quality logistics services that includes infrastructure, resources, systems that can handle pharma products in stringent compliance with international best practices in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Storage Practices (GSP) and Good Distribution Practices (GDP),” he says.
Storage and distribution of pharma ingredients and finished products will be the key operations for those manufacturers in UAE. Therefore, Hall says certification is extremely important for LSPs.
“Systems implemented throughout the processes from Manufacturer to Market (M2M) should follow a validation program that provides a high degree of assurance that a specific process, method or system implemented throughout the supply chain nodes will consistently produce a result that meets pre-determined acceptance criteria,” he says.
RHS Logistics recently established a joint venture called Tripharma Logistics with two Italian partners, Columbus Logistics (founded in 1988) and MWM (founded in 1967) – both highly experienced in the pharmaceutical sector. Tripharma Logistics is therefore uniquely placed to offer bespoke solutions to clients in the global pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.