Interview with: Pharma experts gather to discuss industry outlook ahead of CPhI Middle East & Africa event


The inaugural CPhI Middle East & Africa Advisory Board meeting was held in Dubai on 31st January, and attended by our newly formed panel of MENA market experts, sharing insights into one of Pharma’s most exciting markets.

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The Middle East and Africa is the only region within Pharma that is forecasting double digit growth in the next 5 years, and in response to a growing need for partnering opportunities, 2018 will see the launch of the CPhI Middle East & Africa event.
Taking place in the heart of the UAE, from 3-5 September 2018, at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi, CPhI Middle East & Africa is set to be the leading business platform for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, shining a spotlight on innovation, market access, and successful partnership stories within pharmaceutical development from across the region.
With its co-located events ICSE, P-MEC, InnoPack and FDF, it will bring together Pharma professionals from the whole value chain to learn, network and do business.
To help shape the event, and ensure it meets the needs of the Pharma community, we have invited six key stakeholders to be part of our Advisory Board, whose collective knowledge and expertise in the local market is invaluable in determining how best to serve this dynamic market.

Manel Chikh

Manel Chikh,
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zaphyr Pharmaceuticals

Dr Manel Chikh is the founder and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zaphyr Pharmaceuticals, a company who commercialize highly specialized medicines in the Middle East and African region. Zaphyr operates between Switzerland, Ireland and Dubai and its mission is to make sure all MEA patients suffering from chronic diseases, cancer and rare diseases are treated with the best available products at an affordable price. Manel has also founded Zaphyr MENA, a consultancy company based in Dubai who provides start-ups, small size and medium size healthcare
companies a full range of services to establish and/or expand their business into the MEA markets. Manel is an active member of the European society for Medical Oncology, of the healthcare committee for the French Business Council of the UAE and of the Board of the HEC Alumni association GCC chapter. She with her company Zaphyr was selected among many entrepreneurs to participate to the first UAE France Economic forum under the sponsorship of the president of France Emmanuel Macron. Under Harvard and HEC sponsorship, Manel launched the first healthcare symposium in Dubai. She also participated as an expert in the breast cancer awareness campaign and live panel discussion organized by Health for All Women in the MEA region.
Manel also helped establish the first International Marketing Master Program at the most prestigious Pharma University in France. She regularly teaches students in healthcare and business programs.

How would you describe the MEA Pharma market in three words? Growing, competitive and challenging.

AbdelFattah Irsheid

AbdelFattah Irsheid,
International Business Manager, Laboratorios Ordesa

AbdelFattah Irsheid has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry across sales, marketing, new market business development and international commercial management, mainly in EMEA. He is currently working as International Business Manager for Middle East, South Africa and Pakistan at Laboratorios Ordesa, a Spanish pharmaceutical company which is a leader in nutraceuticals and infant food in Spain. He joined the Barcelona office in 2014 with the responsibility of managing and expanding the current business and exploring new business opportunities by opening new markets in his designated area. Mr. Irsheid previously worked in business development for the Healthcare Industry (EMEA region) at Infor global enterprise solutions -Spain, prior to which he served in different roles in the respiratory therapeutic area at GlaxoSmithKline UAE & Jordan. Mr. Irsheid holds a Master's degree in International Business Administration from Fundesem Business School/Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche-Spain and a B.Sc. degree in Pharmacy from the Jordan University of Science and Technology-Jordan licensed in Spain.

How would you describe the MEA Pharma market in three words? Potential, diversified, rollercoaster!

Claudia Palme

Claudia Palme,
Managing Director, 55east

Claudia Palme is a partner at consulting firm 55east and senior advisor in the global Life Sciences and Health Care industry, based in Dubai, UAE. Her engagements focus on new business models, MEA emerging markets’ expansion, growth and restructuring strategy and investment advisory. Claudia has spent 20 years in senior management in the pharmaceutical industry at Amgen and Novartis and in consulting at The Boston Consulting Group and booz & company across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Before setting up 55east in 2014, she led Strategic Planning and Operations for the Middle East and Africa region at Amgen. Claudia holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard and a Master’s in Economics from LMU Munich. She has co-published a book on policy reforms in Germany, papers on German health care reform and a number of editorials on the MEA region.

How would you describe the MEA Pharma market in three words? Dynamic, Strategic, Complex.

Mustafa Rasheed

Mustafa Rasheed,
Head of Professional Services, Client Education, Clarivate Analytics

Mustafa is Head of Professional Services at Clarivate Analytics, formerly the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters since January 2014. He joined Thomson Reuters in 2008 and served as Territory Manager supporting clients in Germany & Switzerland. In 2010, he transitioned to develop support clients in the Middle East region. His expertise is in supporting rapid developing & emerging economies within various sectors including: Government, Academic and Large Corporation in a range of strategic initiatives. Projects worked on range from developing and supporting Science Technology and Innovation plans to the implementation of tools and services on a national level that support all stages of the innovation life cycle, from basic research all the way through to commercialization. Mustafa has a strong network of key opinion leaders across various industry sectors and works as a trusted advisor with clients by navigating them to authoritative intelligence from Thomson Reuters that enable decision support. His career includes 12 years in Sales prior to Thomson Reuters for large Pharmaceutical organizations - Pfizer & Sanofi Aventis - managing the entry of new products to the market as well as growing regional sales of existing portfolios in the UK.

How would you describe the MEA Pharma market in three words? Very Important market

Firas Nabulsi

Firas Nabulsi,
Business Development Director – MENA, Aspen Healthcare

Firas Nabulsi holds a pharmaceutical degree from the Jordan University of Science and Technology, with over 15 years’ experience in various roles across different departments and therapeutic areas in the pharmaceutical industry. He started out his career in sales as a hospital medical representative and progressed to various roles in Sales, Marketing, and Business Development Management in Europe, CIS, Turkey, Canada, Middle East and North Africa. Firas has worked in multiple positions in Hikma Pharmaceuticals, including managing branded sales in Europe and South Africa, and heading up the Sales and Marketing of the Specialized Products unit with a portfolio licensed from Astellas and Nycomed in the Middle East and North African market. Following his position of Senior Business Development Manager for Europe, based out of Hikma’s HQ in London, Firas then joined Aspen Healthcare heading up Business Development in MENA and supporting Europe, CIS, Turkey and Canada business development projects. Firas is currently Aspen’s Director of Business Development and responsible for expansion of Aspen’s portfolio, strategic alliances, in addition to managing M&A activities in MENA as a key emerging region.

How would you describe the MEA Pharma market in three words? Dynamic, Growing, Rewarding.

Jerome Carle

Jerome Carle,
General Manager, Julphar

Jerome is the General Manager of Julphar. He is responsible for all aspects of Julphar's operations. He joined the Company in January 2017 as Corporate CFO, before being appointed Acting General Manager. He has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry and during his 20-year-plus career, he has served in a variety of senior management positions. He began his career in financial operations with Peugeot and Ford and spent 17 years with Sanofi, where he had multiple global assignments including the role of Chief Finance Officer in Africa and Southeast Asia. He is also a Board Member of joint-ventures with Julphar’s partners in Africa, Asia and Middle-East. Jerome holds a Master’s degree in Economy and Management from the Bordeaux Business School in France, completed by Executive Education programs at Harvard Business School and INSEAD. He has been involved with several Think Tanks and as an active member of the European Investors Council and Pharma Manufacturers Work Associations.

How would you describe the MEA Pharma market in three words?  Dynamic, Challenging, Complex.

What’s the outlook for the Middle East & Africa region, where do the biggest opportunities lie and what value could the CPhI event offer the market?
We asked our experts for their insights.

1. Where do you see the biggest opportunity arising from in the Middle East & Africa Market?

Manel Chikh, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zaphyr Pharmaceuticals
"Government policies and efforts across the MEA region to reduce drug spending whilst simultaneously improving access to quality and cost effective medicines for patients has resulted in the strong performance of generics. Affordability will be the key consideration for both payers and patients, and the most cost-effective options will typically be generics. Local and regional players and
manufacturers are encouraged to develop a larger product portfolio to fulfil national needs. For example, it was announced in January 2017 that as part of the UAE's strategy to decrease the cost of medicines and limit the country's escalating healthcare bill, the Emirates' Ministry of Health (MoH) plans to increase the number of generic drug manufacturing facilities. Innovative drugs will continue to be welcomed in the region. In the GCC for example, the Ministries of Health encourage faster market access to highly innovative diagnostics and medicines, making it a priority to provide patients with the best available treatments. As a consequence, many FDA/EU approved innovative products can be commercialized in just few months in some countries, through specific early access programs before registration."

Firas Nabulsi, Business Development Director – MENA, Aspen Healthcare
"Local manufacturing and encouraging technology transfer into MENA is becoming a key objective of ministries of health and legislating authorities, and a strategic driver for multinationals, regional, and local key players for entering, expanding, and defending their presence in the region. Furthermore this is encouraging, and enhancing, more in market partnerships between multinationals, local manufacturers, and players, enabling fast market access, and enhancing the offering and availability of cost effective treatments and medication targeting the growing patient
population. The diversity across the region allows the adaption of different business models ranging from the less regulated markets, which enable earlier market penetratio and  commercialization, versus on the other hand highly regulated markets which would adapt EU/US guidelines, and would provide accelerated, fast track registrations for dossiers having registration certificates from EMEA and US FDA."

AbdelFattah Irsheid, International Business Manager, Laboratorios Ordesa
"The region has close to 300 pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities (some established, others are still under construction), with different standards and levels of development. Some are very high
end, high tech and adhere to high quality standards; which I believe is an excellent platform for contract manufacturing in the region. This is something that multinationals or medium sized companies in Europe can make good use of; easing market access and taking advantage of lower manufacturing costs when compared to EU, in addition to geographical proximity. So I see a big opportunity for technology transfer, or even selling innovative therapies at more affordable prices whilst enjoying better margins."

Jerome Carle, General Manager, Julphar
"The Middle East and Africa continues to evolve and present increasingly interesting opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry and it is one of the fastest growing areas for Julphar's global operations. A number of factors help make the region a hub for the healthcare sector, chief among them, demographics. A growing population coupled with GDP growth is fuelling the demand for quality and costeffective healthcare solutions. Added to this is the surge in the level of cardiovascular diseases as well as the growing prevalenceof diabetes, which makes the pharmaceutical sector vitally important. We are also seeing governments encouraging the local manufacture of pharmaceutical products across the region, which is why Julphar is building alliances and
partnerships in the MEA."

Mustafa Rasheed, Head of Professional Services, Client Education, Clarivate Analytics
"Healthcare is top of the agenda for most governments in the MENA region, and industrial cluster around this sector will be developing, which will expand the requirements from the pharma companies in terms of compliance and collaboration."

Claudia Palme, Managing Director, 55east
"The biggest opportunities are very specific to who you are, and what your capabilities are. Generally, your specific “sweet spot” will be where you can integrate your strategy with local governments’ agendas, in terms of developing healthcare infrastructure and capabilities, and the local economic transformation. This is true all over the region: if you are an innovative drug company, you’re going to continue to look at markets that have been the biggest drivers for innovation in the past (Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and the Gulf States). These governments will be focusing their agendas on further fuelling access to healthcare, and balancing financial demands while providing a high level standard of care. The less affluent countries in the region are looking to find
solid, high-quality affordable specialty generics to upgrade their health care systems. If your expertise is in Biosimilars, these are so far not widely available in the region. Therefore, you will have
very interesting discussions with everyone in the ecosystem, from government to manufacturing, especially if you have the technological expertise in this field. In Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular,
there is the opportunity to upgrade healthcare at a more reasonable price point. In fact, the biggest opportunity is in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is looking for good, solid branded generics, that can be offered up for large distribution. There is an opportunity for any company, whether at the point of innovation, or more basic requirements - the question that will be asked is; ‘can you prove
your value’, in terms of enriching healthcare, economics, benefits, and distribution. "

2. Which regions offer the biggest growth potential?

Claudia Palme, Managing Director, 55east

"In general terms, growth is measured in percentage per year, and in that there is no other place with growth that matches Sub-Saharan Africa. Simply as they are coming from a lower absolute starting point then the rest of the world, but you have to consider that the region is forecast the become the 2nd largest in terms of population in 10 years’ time. Having said that, even taking this into account, it’s still lower in absolute terms than the rest of the world. And if you’re considering opportunistic sales without long-term view, then it’s not a market for you. But if you’re using a portfolio management approach, and want to be part of the massive growth dynamic, you should move to be established and in place now, to reap the benefit in 5-10 years’ time, in absolute
value terms."

AbdelFattah Irsheid, International Business Manager, Laboratorios Ordesa
"KSA, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Iran are still representing a significant share of the pie although the growth of these markets was slower than previous expectations during 2017 due to the turmoil that affected the region. Nevertheless I believe that the opportunities of growth in the region are still high compared to the rest of the world especially in Sub-Saharan Africa region where the population is exceeding one billion (expected to double by 2050) and life expectancy is improving year by year with high fertility rates in the majority of these countries. Most of those countries are
still underdeveloped with high prevalence of infectious diseases and expected increases in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases with the changes in life style and  the improved life expectancy, which will increase the demand to a better access to more developed healthcare system and higher quality medicines."

Mustafa Rasheed, Head of Professional Services, Client Education, Clarivate Analytics
"Saudi Arabia."

Manel Chikh, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zaphyr Pharmaceuticals
"Middle East, East & West Africa and Maghreb'"

Firas Nabulsi, Business Development Director – MENA, Aspen Healthcare"A typical answer would be
the tier 1 markets: The big 5 Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, South Africa and Iran as the key drivers of MEA in terms of market value and potential, with highest growth rates amongst Egypt and Algeria. Whilst tier 2 region would include: Morocco, UAE, Iraq, Jordan and French west Africa having established increased growth rates and faster market access."

Jerome Carle, General Manager, Julphar"We have ambitious expansion
plans in the region, particularly in Africa, where we are making inroads in a number of key markets."

3. What benefits do you think the CPhI Middle East & Africa event could offer the market?

Manel Chikh, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Zaphyr Pharmaceuticals
"By representing each sector of the pharmaceutical industry, CPhI is one of the most important and supportive platforms for pharma companies. Each CPhI event is an opportunity to meet new key players, to develop YOUR API or finished dose portfolio, to develop and expend manufacturing and/or commercialization capabilities in new territories and to receive updates on all the new trends. Thanks to CPhI, I met many outstanding partners with whom I built a strong and successful long-term presence in the MEA region. I fully support and recommend the launch of CPhI MEA.
This event will be a fantastic opportunity to highlight the region to the wider pharma market and to give foreign companies real exposure to the potential opportunities it offers. API developers, finished dosage suppliers, CROs and manufacturers will have the chance to build strong relationships with key regional and local players to develop and increase local production, as well as to stimulate imports of high quality, effective medicines in the region."

Firas Nabulsi, Business Development Director – MENA, Aspen Healthcare
"CPhI is a global well know brand which has established a sound footprint in the pharmaceutical industry. In MEA there has been a shortage and an unmet need with regards to regional platforms,
hubs and venues that cater for the engagement of pharmaceutical industry players, health authorities and policy makers and enable exhibiting of new innovations and technologies eventually leading to a business relationship benefiting the complete cycle chain. CPhI MEA will meet this objective and can be perceived and positioned as “THE PHARMA INDUSTRY ANNUAL MEETING POINT IN MEA.”"

Claudia Palme, Managing Director, 55east
"We’ve talked a lot about the ecosystem, and when a big name trade fair puts an industry on the map, it’s an integral part of growing that ecosystem. It is one more piece in the puzzle: local manufactures can gain exposure, and evolve through upgrading products, and technology, and strategically integrating local, and multinational efforts across the region. Smaller to medium sized companies can receive a ‘fresh look’ from multinationals by being exposed to the rest of the world in one spot, in a concentrated manner. CPhI coming to the region reflects on the maturity of the local ecosystem: it is a signal that the region has evolved to a point different to the manner it’s been seen in the past. It’s moved beyond a critical point of inflection and is heading in a new direction and growth trajectory."

Jerome Carle, General Manager, Julphar
"The MEA plays a more and more important role in the global pharmaceutical market. This event will give exposure to regional players, stimulate discussion on key regional and international issues and create meaningful opportunities for collaboration. It will also provide a unique opportunity to gain insights into the latest trends and developments that are shaping the landscape of the industry. For companies that do not have a footprint in the MEA, this will also be a great opportunity to find strong partners to help them navigate in the region and build their strategies."

Mustafa Rasheed, Head of Professional Services, Client Education, Clarivate Analytics
"It will be a great opportunity for networking and identifying innovative ways to expand market shares."

"CPhI in general is an excellent venue where a company can meet its existing business partners, explore new markets, discuss new business opportunities, learn about the latest innovations, trends and technologies in the pharmaceutical world and the best place for networking with like headed experts even meeting friends from the industry. Thinking of European companies
or companies from the rest of the world specially the ones that are interested in MEA but has low or no presence at all, I believe that CPhI MEA gives a great opportunity for a 360 experience in the region as they may breath the hot air of Abu Dhabi, mix in person with some people from the region to learn a bit more about the diversified culture in MEA and meet with key stakeholders from the industry from every market. I believe the value for all will be maximized in the case of engagement of some influential regulatory and payer organisations from the different countries of the region."

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Meet new and existing partners, hear from senior speakers on the latest trends and developments, network with key players from across the region and find your growth opportunity at CPhI Middle East & Africa event.

Find out more on our website or if you’d like information on exhibiting, go to

We hope to see you in Abu Dhabi!