Julphar and FT Forum Highlights the Need for Biotechnology Investments and Regulations

4113The MENA region will need to allocate more funds by both the public and private sectors and develop a robust, relevant regulatory framework in order to build a world-class biotechnology and biosimilars industry, concluded participants at the Biotechnology Forum held today by Julphar (Gulf Pharmaceuticals Industries) and The Financial Times, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, at the Address Down Town – Dubai.

Attended by representatives of governments from the region and local and global industry leaders and investors, the Forum discussed the necessary path which the region should take to establish a vibrant biotechnology sector. The panel discussions stressed on the role of the private sector and encouraged private investors in the region and worldwide to seize the huge and promising opportunities a thriving MENA biotechnology sector can offer.

The Forum also emphasized the urgency of a clear and stringent regulatory regime that would facilitate and control the growth of the nascent industry. Learnings from developed markets’ experiences and how their regulatory regimes are developing were tackled by the participants.

The Biosimilars segment was a significant focus of the Forum’s discussions. With Europe recently approving the first monoclonal antibody biosimilar and the US finalizing its guidelines for biologics, the region has a vested economic interest to seize this opportunity to lay strong grounds for bio-similars locally. Biosimilars are generic medical products whose active substance is made from a living organism, or derived from a living organism by means of human recombinant DNA or controlled gene expression methods.

Commenting on the Forum, Dr. Ayman Sahli, Julphar CEO, said “This Forum is of paramount importance to the region, considering the benefits the local economies and healthcare industry can gain from a sophisticated biotechnology and biosimilars sector. Julphar has recognised the global healthcare industry is advancing greatly in more effective biosimilar therapies and subsequently adapted our business model to a more dynamic and responsive company that keeps pace with market trends; we have already made inroads into the bio-similars segment to produce sufficient insulin for the region at affordable cost”.

“The fact that this Forum has been held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Deputy Ruler, and in attendance of representatives from a wide range of countries, indicates the official support to the efforts aiming at establishing a fully-fledged biotechnology and biosimilars industry in the region”, added Dr. Sahli.

It is difficult to estimate current biotechnology investments in MENA, but some Arab governments have already launched initiatives to kick off the sector. KSA spent Riyals 350m on biotechnology projects from 2010 to 2012. Dubai established the first biotechnology free zone (Dubiotech) in the world to attract biotechnology world leaders and encourage investments in the field. Jordan also established Princess Haya Biotechnology Center, and Abu Dhabi University is host to the first biotechnology incubator in the country.

The conclusions and recommendations of the Forum will be shared with regional governments and industry players in the region to help set the way forward for biotechnology and biosimilars in the region.

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