Boehringer Ingelheim works a deal with Saudi firms to package its products

Boehringer Ingelheim is taking steps toward producing medicine in Saudi Arabia for the local market. The German drugmaker struck a deal with two Saudi companies, Cigalah and Tabuk, which will manage and handle secondary packaging projects for 26 Boehringer Ingelheim products.

According to Albawaba Business, Tabuk is a local drug manufacturing company and Cigalah is a healthcare distributor. The more than two dozen products will span treatment areas including respiratory, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and others. The company said this will mark the first milestone in its move to manufacturing there.

Saudi Arabia is currently importing about 85% of the drugs used in the country. Most of the local production is of generic products. But Saudi Arabia is one of the secondary emerging markets that drugmakers have been targeting recently as they look for healthier growth than they are finding at home, or even in places like China, a huge market, but one that has gotten trickier to negotiate.

Earlier this month, AbbVie ($ABBV) announced it would partner with the Arab Company for Pharmaceutical Products (Arabio) to manufacture Humira, the world's best-selling drug, and other products in Saudi Arabia. Pfizer ($PFE) is a step ahead, having started on a plant there that is expected to be producing drugs next year.

Other companies including Sanofi ($SNY), Merck KGaA's Serono division, Merck & Co. ($MRK), Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Bayer are among those that are establishing production and distribution operations, as well as sales and marketing efforts, throughout the Middle East.

- read the Albawaba Business story