ENP Newswire -
Release date- 16022014 - The uae government's recent retreat to brainstorm on the future of healthcare in the country coincided with an important and highly-relevant healthcare event held in
As technology based on biology and other life sciences, biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve people's lives. In the pharmaceutical field, modern biotechnology provides breakthrough products and technologies to combat serious and rare diseases. A biosimilar is a biological product that gets approved based on demonstrating it is similar to an already approved biological product (reference product). Biopharmaceuticals include vaccines, blood and blood components, gene therapies, tissues, and proteins. Unlike most prescription drugs made through chemical processes, biological products generally are made from human and/or animal materials.
It was revealed during the forum that the biotech industry is experiencing small (
As early as 2005, the US biotechnology industry invested
It is believed that biotechnology can potentially transform the healthcare sector. The quality and improved accessibility that come with biotechnology are now established facts that no one currently questions. A regional biotech and biosimilars industry will therefore help take the quality in the regional healthcare sector to the next level, producing new efficient remedies and improving accessibility. Also, a local biotechnology and biosimilar industry might very well help in reducing the increasing financial and healthcare burden on governments and people in the region.
There are, however, some obstacles that should be surmounted before the way can be paved for biotechnology in the Mena region.
Regulations: Countries in the Mena region do not have a common regulatory framework to approve medicines; every product has to be approved by each individual country, which means one product needs 22 approvals. Undoubtedly, this represents a huge obstacle to innovation in the region and drive investors away from the business. For this obstacle to be removed, it is clear that governments in the region need to move quickly towards setting a unified regulatory framework that ensures quality processes and end products without curbing innovation or disappointing investors and manufacturers.
Innovation: As a highly-complicated research field, biotechnology and biosimilars depend heavily on science, technology and availability of highly-qualified talent. Obviously, this tripartite platform isn't yet mature in the Mena region. It is worth mentioning, however, that Julphar, depending on its own capabilities, has already made inroads into the biosimilar field to produce insulin raw material locally, which has made of the
Clearly, government agencies, higher education institutions and healthcare providers all need collaborate to find the right formula to build the desperately required innovation platform. We are not reinventing any wheels here and we need to learn from the experiences of markets developed in biotechnology and biosimilars. Alternatively, the innovation gap can be bridged by collaboration programmes with global leaders or by mergers and acquisitions. The Mena region, though small, is a promising emerging market for biotech giants and we need to seize this strength to lay the know-how grounds for biotechnology in the region.
Investments: No doubt, biotechnology and biosimilars require huge investments. For instance, the advanced diabetes biosimilar plant that Julphar established in 2012 cost
Considering the benefits of biotechnology to economies and healthcare sectors in Mena, governments are expected to subsidise biotech companies and support them so as not to feel left alone exposed to risks. If this doesn't happen, the trend of shying away from biotechnology will most probably persist.
A world-class biotechnology industry is of great importance for the future of quality healthcare service in the Mena region. Governments and healthcare providers should support the emerging industry by agreeing on a common regulatory framework, subsidising early stages of the business and putting in place the innovation platform indispensable for the long term success of biotechnology. Having the funds necessary for biotechnology and being more developed in terms of technology adoption, GCC countries seem to be better placed to lead the Mena efforts in building a world class biotechnology industry in Mena.
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