Pharmaceutical production is not common in the Middle East, but it seems drug firms in Saudi Arabia are trying to change that.

The kingdom is the region’s biggest user of pharmaceutical products. On average, each person spends $60 a year on them, accounting for almost half the GCC total of $3bn.

However, like many other consumer products, most medical drugs in the country, branded and generic, are imported. This is not to say the kingdom is new to the market. The Saudi Arabian Japanese Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Company (Saja) has a complex in Jeddah and is now planning a major expansion of the plant.

If the plans get past the study phase, an additional 35 million packs of drugs will be produced at Saja’s proposed oral solid dosage facility. Such an expansion would be a positive step in the Saudi Arabian pharmaceuticals industry that the government would welcome.

Construction of such a technical facility would offer local engineers and technicians excellent experience. Operationally, it would also create skilled jobs for young graduates, something that is high on the kingdom’s agenda.

Producing significant amounts of pharmaceutical products is also an indicator of a country determined to become as self-sufficient as possible over the coming decades. 

Saja hopes the study will be a success, so it can forge ahead with its expansion plans. At this time, maybe more than any other, the kingdom needs projects like this.