Mega project to strengthen Oman’s pharmaceutical security

An integrated pharmaceuticals complex currently under construction in Salalah Free Zone (SFZ) has the potential to evolve into the first value-added services (VAS) hub for the regional pharmaceutical industry, according to a high-powered government committee overseeing the delivery of strategic projects and initiatives designed to accelerate Oman’s economic diversification.

The Implementation Support & Follow-Up Unit (ISFU), a panel set up under the auspices of the Diwan of Royal Court, said Philex Pharmaceuticals – a mega project backed by Qatari and international investors – will also help boost Oman’s pharmaceutical security over the long term.

Construction work on the complex is well under way on a 110,000 sq metre site in the Adhan area of Salalah Free Zone.  The foundation stone for the project was laid in March 2018 in the presence of officials representing the principal shareholders Abela International and Arab Group for Investment.  Total investment in the venture is estimated at RO 140 million over multiple phases.

According to ISFU, which was instrumental in speeding up the approvals process with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Health, Phase 1 is being developed with an initial investment of RO 10 million.

The centerpiece is a pharmaceuticals factory with three production lines churning out generics of as many as 100 different types of formulations in tablet, capsule, syrup and other forms.  Product manufacturing will commence in early 2022.

A three-stage operational strategy envisages the production of tablets and capsules, as well as creams and ointments in the first phase, followed by injections and inhaled respiratory system medications in Phase 2. In the third phase, cancer treatment pills and injections will be added to the plant’s portfolio, according to ISFU.

Significantly, Philex Pharmaceuticals will also invest in secondary packaging capabilities designed to cater to the packaging requirements of the international pharma industry.  Conceived as a comprehensive, one-stop packaging solution, the complex will be equipped for tablet/capsule filling, blister packaging, and liquid filling. Its packaging capabilities are designed to cater to manufacturers of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, dietary supplements, animal health products, medical devices, and other consumer products.