Plan to get global pharma companies to Sultanate

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: Dec. 20: To reduce dependence on imports and further cut the prices of drugs, Oman is seeking to have the presence of global pharmaceutical firms in the country.
This has been mentioned in a report by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on its long-term plan for sustainability of medical products, technologies and services in the country.
A source at the ministry, meanwhile, confirmed that officials from some companies, which are based in the region and the West, have already visited the Sultanate to conduct a feasibility study.
“The aim is to have enough pharmaceutical firms in the country so that medicines can be made available at a much cheaper rate apart from providing medication security,” the source said.
According to the report, the ministry has already done operational and feasibility studies for allowing pharmaceutical companies to invest in Oman as part of its longer-term health plan.
Since Oman does not have enough pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, most drugs are imported and prices are considered to be one of the highest in the region.
More than 90 per cent of the country’s pharmacy needs are met through imports.
“A strong pharmaceutical sector can not only bring down prices, but also make drugs easily available in the country. This will open up the gateway to the entire MENA region,” said the official.
According to him, the government has already earmarked plots of land in the medical city for companies willing to invest in the production of medicines.
The ministry also plans to develop a ‘National Regulatory Authority for Biomedical Technology’ to follow up and evaluate running costs of medical equipment and consider purchase versus lease. “This will help encourage national investors to invest in biomedical technology,” the MoH report said.
The plan will also enable production of proper plans for maintenance, repair and replacement of biomedical technology, increase annual budgets, and strengthen and decentralise warehouse and workshops.
At the same time, the report pointed out that the ministry has already established evidence-based policies for procurement of emerging technologies.
“This ensures appropriate match between acquired biomedical technology and staff recruitment, national norms for quality assurance, regulations and laws to regulate licensing new medical equipment,” the report added.