MoH: Oman should aim for self-sufficiency in pharma

The Sultanate’s continuing reliance on imports for the bulk of the country’s requirement of medicines, pharmaceuticals and surgical consumables opens up promising opportunities for private sector investment in an import-substituting, domestic pharmaceuticals sector, according to a high-level official of Oman’s Ministry of Health.
Dr Ali bin Talib al Hinai, Under-Secretary for Planning Affairs, said Health Ministry alone — the dominant provider of healthcare services in the Sultanate — spends on average around RO 100 million annually towards pharmaceutical drugs and surgical consumables, around 90 per cent of which is sourced from overseas suppliers.
The official made the revelation in the context of opportunities for the private sector to play an enhanced role in the healthcare sector in the Sultanate, either through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements with the Ministry or via direct investments in goods and services that support the wider healthcare ecosystem.
Speaking at a recent investment forum highlighting opportunities for local and international players to join hands with the Omani government in the delivery of projects and services under the PPP framework, Dr Al Hinai cited examples of countries that he said were self-sufficient in meeting their domestic requirements of medicines and pharma products. Notable examples include Cuba and Bangladesh, he said.
Off late, Oman’s fledgling pharmaceutical industry has attracted sizable investments with an eye on regional and international markets. Early last year, Felix Pharmaceuticals launched construction work on a world-scale plant in Salalah Free Zone, targeting the production of more than 100 types of pharmaceuticals with an investment of RO 140 million.
Planned for development in three phases, the plant will be fully built by 2021.
More recently, Thaiba Pharma Group awarded a contract for a construction of its Menagene Pharmaceutical Industries complex at Rusayl Industrial City in Muscat. The facility will focus on the production of “innovative speciality” medicines when it comes into operation in 2021.
Aside from the pharma sector, the Health Ministry also sees opportunities for private-led investments, via PPP arrangements, in the delivery of laundry and catering services. An estimated 10,000 — 12,000 pieces of hospital linen are required to the dry-cleaned every day across Health Ministry institutions, while around 4,000-6,000 meals need to be prepared for inpatients daily, the official added.