GSK leads pharma charge to Middle East

The pharma manufacturing base has now spread to Iraq. Expansion-minded GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), which has been supplying the Iraqi market for two decades, is now setting up a production operation there.

Operations will begin with the Big Pharma's agreement to manufacture and package drugs at the Baghdad facilities of Iraqi private company Modern Drug Industries, reports the U.K.'s The Telegraph. As the government begins to open up the private sector, "an increasing number of international pharmaceutical companies are vying for business in Iraq," according to the article. An established GSK production presence could provide a competitive advantage, as it has in pharma expansions into other regions.

However, operational risks remain, and security concerns continue to dampen the pace of non-native private pharma enterprise. But Iraq pumped $3.8 billion into its healthcare infrastructure last year, and the past 18 months have seen "a causal link between increasing stability and industry competition," said Mohammed Zafrullah, GSK's VP for the Gulf Near East, in the story.

Drugmaker Hikma of London is another early entrant in Iraq, claiming it sees "excellent growth opportunities" in a market that is still relatively unregulated.

Separately, the Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries & Medical Appliances Corp. (SPIMACO) is adopting the ARISg pharmacovigilance system on the solution provider's software-as-a-service delivery platform. SPIMACO's charter is to set up "an advanced pharmaceutical industry" in Saudi Arabia for the local production of medicines, according to a release.

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