Spotlight: Egypt to achieve medicine production self-sufficiency: experts

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 14, 2020
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by Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Egypt closely approaches to achieve self-sufficiency in medicine production and has great potential to increase its exports abroad, according to medical experts.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli discussed in a meeting on Oct. 7 with officials from Health, Trade and Industry Ministries, Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) and Egyptian Export Council of Medical Industries (ECMI) means of securing the medications in the local markets and promoting the pharmaceutical companies' capabilities to enter foreign markets.

There are about 160 factories manufacturing more than 10,000 kinds of medicines in Egypt, according to Aly Ouef, chairman of the Cairo-based Drugs Branch with the General Union of Trade Chambers.

"We are covering more than 92 percent of the Egyptian market needs," Ouef told Xinhua.

The Egyptian government now considers medicine as "an important strategic commodity," he added, noting that Egypt owns great opportunities for exporting medicine abroad soon considering the country's support for the vital sector.

"There are high demands for Egyptian medicine from the African countries and Arab countries especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.

The medical official said that the increase in the exports' orders have pushed the EDA to condition the storage of 6-month strategic quantities before pharmaceutical companies could export its products.

"Egypt is a pioneering country in the pharmaceutical industry, and has been leading over long years Africa, Arab countries and the Middle East in that sector with a very good reputation," he said.

However, long period of production, low pricing, the coronavirus crisis that impacted the market movements are challenging the pharmaceutical industry in Egypt, according to Ouef.

Stressing the importance of increasing medicine exports for securing hard currency necessary for buying raw materials, he said Egypt's exports currently are estimated at 500 million U.S. dollars annually.

"Nearly 90 percent of the pharmaceutical products in Egyptian markets are locally manufactured," said Maged George, chairman of the ECMI.

"Egypt targets the African large markets which imports 95 percent of its medicine from abroad," George said, adding that the Egyptian share in the African markets does not exceed five percent currently.

He explained that the Egyptian government highly boosts the pharmaceutical sector by supporting the foreign services and exhibitions, and covers part of the costs of registering the medicine abroad as well as 50 percent of the shipping fees to Africa countries.

Egyptian pharmaceutical companies can also benefit from many trade agreements Egypt signed with African countries and blocs, including the COMESA, for developing exports of the health sector, he added.

Registering the medicine takes a long time, which hinders the process of exportation, he explained, adding that the medicine exports could constitute a significant source of the country's income.

Meanwhile, Samy al-Mashad, secretary-general of the Health Affairs Committee in the parliament, said Egypt closely approaches to achieve medicine production self-sufficiency.

Egypt owns many pioneering factories that produce high-quality medicines which could meet the demands of the African and Middle East countries, said al-Mashad.

He added that Egypt has a large number of export orders, but the pricing process is still a problem that the government is about to solve. Enditem

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