Saudi Arabian Japanese Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Company (Saja) is planning to expand its current facilities in Jeddah with a new oral solid dosage (OSD) factory.

The plant will produce 35 million packs a year (p/y) of tablets and capsules of various pharmaceutical products for the domestic market.

Saudi Arabia health expenditure
Total expenditure on health (per capita $) 621
Government expenditure on health (per capita $) 482
Total expenditure on health of percentage of GDP 3.30%
Health Minstry budget as percentage of government expenditure 5.60%
Number of physicians per 10,000 population 21.5
Number of pharmicists per 10,000 population 6.4
Total life expectancy at birth 73.4 years
Source: World Health Organisation

“Saja is looking to carry out a study first before making a decision on whether to proceed with the project,” says a source. “They are looking for contractors to work on the expansion and will source the equipment for the job from their Japanese partners.”

The source adds that the value of the project will not be determined until the study has been completed, but a plant producing 35 million p/y will be “significant”.

Saja is a joint venture of Jeddah-based Tamer and two of Japan’s largest Japanese pharmaceutical firms – Astellas and Daiichi-Sankyo. The company produces generics and licensed products.

OSD facilities produce tablets and capsules. While not large in scale, the facilities require extremely hygienic conditions. The scope of works usually includes the construction of clean process rooms that contain the process equipment, clean support process areas for washing, movements and staging, a laboratory and finishing space with ancillary equipment and ventilation facilities. Clean warehousing facilities are also required.   

“Pharmaceutical plants are usually quite challenging and Saja will be looking for companies with prior experience in such facilities,” says the source. “This will be quite an unusual project for the region.”

Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest market for pharmaceutical products with Saudis spending about $60 per capita on products every year.  The business is worth about $1.5bn a year in total, which is almost 50 per cent of the total spent in the GCC.

The Tamer Group is an offshoot of one of Jeddah’s most prominent pharmaceutical family businesses and was founded in 1922.