Pfizer, which earlier this year opened a new manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia, now has a competitor nearby. A new drug manufacturing facility built by a Middle East partnership has also opened in King Abdullah Economic City on the west coast of the Red Sea, north of Jeddah.
The $53 million, 75,000-square-meter (807,292-square-foot) Julphar Saudi Arabia plant officially opened last week, reports the Saudi Gazette. The facility was built by a joint venture between the United Arab Emirates-based Julphar Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, and Cigalah Group, a Saudi healthcare distributor. Julphar claims to be the largest generic drugmaker in the Middle East and North Africa.
Julphar will make both oral solid dose and oral liquid formulations. It will have the capacity to manufacture up to 1 billion tablets, 300 million capsules and 30 million bottles of syrups and suspensions a year, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Faisal Al Qasimi, vice-chairman of the board, said at the opening.
“The medicines will be manufactured locally, which will help reduce the cost of production and ensure all our high quality products are affordable to families in the kingdom,” Julphar’s Chairman Sheikh Faisal Bin Saqr Al Qassimi said at the event. “The addition of the Julphar plant in Saudi Arabia also supports the company’s vision to expand its manufacturing presence in the region.”
The new Julphar facility in the UAE comes online after the country in 2015 made drugmakers cut the prices on drugs as falling oil prices squeezed the country's budget. The UAE's Ministry of Health cut prices on 280 products. The country has made several rounds of cuts since 2010.
The project is reportedly the first Emirati-Saudi investment partnership in the pharmaceutical industry. But there has been a growing number of pharma projects in the region.
Pfizer’s $50 million, 11,108-square-meter (119,565-square-foot) manufacturing and packaging facility opened in January with plans to produce 16 products, including cardiovascular, pain, anti-infective, urology and neurology products. It will employ about 125 people, half of them Saudi nationals. Pfizer began discussions for the plant in 2011.
In 2014, UAE-based Neopharma pledged to build a drug manufacturing facility in Jazan City in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia-based Tabuk has partnerships with Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim.