The implementation of a generic medicine framework (legislation) in Saudi Arabia can result in an estimated decrease of 35%-40%, equivalent to SR10 billion ($2.66 billion), in medication spending annually, according to a new report report released by Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance.
The whitepaper is considered to be the first-of-its-kind to explore generic medicine legislations in the Kingdom.
Dr Ayman Al-Sulaimani, Medical Director at Bupa Arabia, said there’s an existing policy in favour of generic medicine in Saudi Arabia. However, it lacks enforcement due to the non-availability of generic medicine at the desired level of quality and price even though healthcare continues to be a top priority for the government in Saudi Arabia, which announced several initiatives to improve healthcare services as part of Vision 2030.
“Today, only 30% of pharmaceuticals are manufactured locally,” added Dr Al-Sulaimani. “Introducing a generic medicine framework (legislation) can boost local manufacturing of drugs, which not only provides employment opportunities for Saudis but also reduces the medication cost burden in the country.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a ‘generic drug’ or ‘generic medicine’ as: a pharmaceutical product usually intended to be interchangeable with the originator brand product, manufactured without a licence from the originator manufacturer and marketed after the expiry of patent or other exclusivity rights.
Generic medicine contains the same active ingredients as their original counterparts, as they have the same qualitative, quantitative and pharmaceutical composition of the original medical product, and their biological equivalence with the original medical product is proven through appropriate bio-equivalence studies. They are less costly than their original brand counterpart because manufacturers do not have to conduct clinical trials that are required from brand-name medicines to demonstrate safety and effectiveness, which often costs millions of dollars.
A study conducted by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science concluded that the global spending on pharmaceuticals reached a staggering $1.2 trillion in 2018 and is expected to exceed $1.5 trillion by 2023. In the Middle East and Africa, the study pointed to an increase in pharmaceutical expenditure by 9%, amounting to $25 billion, of which $8 billion came from Saudi Arabia alone.
Based on Bupa Arabia’s report, Saudi Arabia is the largest spender on healthcare across the Middle East, with over $37 billion (SR139 billion) spent on private and semi-government sectors, the Ministry of Health and out-of-pocket expenditures.--TradeArabia News Service
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