Healthcare Opportunities

An Expert's View about Medical, Health and Cosmetics Products in Saudi Arabia

Last updated: 29 Jul 2011

Healthcare in Saudi Arabia continues to be a thriving sector as the government continues to finance health services for a rapidly growing population of 28 million, which is growing by more than 3 percent per annum. It is the largest market for medical equipment

Sector briefing Healthcare Opportunities in Saudi Arabia Why Saudi Arabia? The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a market where good opportunities exist and where UK companies can succeed. The Kingdom is the rd UK's 23 largest export market worth £1.6 billion (£1=SR6.17 approx). It is one of the UK's largest trading partners in the Middle East and our largest export market in the region. nd The UK is Saudi Arabia's 2 largest joint investor overall. Healthcare in Saudi Arabia continues to be a thriving sector as the government continues to finance health services for a rapidly growing ?Healthcare in Saudi Arabia population of 28 million, which is growing by continues to be a thriving more than 3 percent per annum. It is the largest market for medical equipment and sector as the government healthcare products in the Gulf and Middle seeks to finance health East. services for a rapidly Find general information on Saudi Arabian growing population of 28 market conditions on UKTI?s website. The million. It is the largest Doing Business Guide for Saudi Arabia gives an market for medical overview of Saudi Arabia?s economy, business equipment and healthcare culture, potential opportunities and an introduction to other relevant issues. products in the Gulf and Middle East? UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing: Healthcare opportunities in Saudi Arabia society as independent, productive individuals. Opportunities There are also 24 special education institutes for the blind and the deaf in Saudi Arabia and Saudi healthcare market is classified into three three centres for handicapped children. The broad segments i.e. Ministry of Health, non- special needs (handicapped) market is a MOH (military, National Guard, security forces, largely untapped market and offers great university hospitals etc) and private. Each of potential to those overseas suppliers who are these segments bears their own distinctive willing to invest in providing training on their characteristics. products. UKTI Inward Missions representing Saudi companies to events such as NAIDEX has Healthcare Infrastructure managed to introduce a number of UK The Saudi government continues to invest suppliers to this largely untapped and growing heavily in health infrastructure development. market. In the 2011 budget an amount of SR68.7 billion (£11.8 billion) has been earmarked for Medical Training its healthcare and social welfare services, an The Kingdom has been spending generously in increase of 12 per cent over last year (from the field of medical training and plans to SR61 billion (£10.5 billion) to SR 68.7 billion further improve medical education to ensure (£11.8 billion). As part of a social spending medical students are kept abreast of the latest package, in March 2011 an additional SR 16 developments. According to the latest available billion (£2.64 billion) was allocated to figures, there are now almost 5100 male and healthcare bringing the total allocation to SR female students attending the Kingdom's 84.7 billion (£14.4 billion). medical colleges and a further 2300 students are studying medicine abroad. New projects will include the building of 12 new hospitals, expanding existing facilities and the The government and some private hospitals continuation of building new primary care have announced plans for opening new medical centres throughout the Kingdom. colleges and universities. The ones to be established by the private sector will require The Higher Education Ministry has also Government approval. announced plans to establish medical colleges and hospitals at all of the Kingdom?s 24 Dentistry government universities. They have already There are more than 107 dental facilities at started work on some of the university Government hospitals including specialised hospitals and contracts will be awarded soon to dental hospitals and around 320 private dental implement the rest of the university hospital clinics. The private dental clinics are increasing projects. These educational hospitals will also with the growing awareness of oral hygiene. In provide health services to people in their addition to some others the British Centres for respective provinces. Excellence in Dentistry, London has set up a specialised clinic in Riyadh in collaboration with Special Needs the Saudi British Hospital. These and other Saudi Arabia has also established an efficient dental clinics are creating opportunities for network of facilities to treat and rehabilitate suppliers of cosmetics, consumables, tools and the mentally and physically handicapped. The dental equipment. Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs have established a network Health Insurance of rehabilitation centres for the handicapped. The government is working on expanding the These facilities fall into two categories. The first health insurance sector, which in 2009, was offers services for medical, physical and mental valued at around SR5 billion (£ 0.9 billion). treatment and rehabilitation of patients and is This is expected to increase to SR7 billion (£1.2 operated or supervised by the Ministry of billion) in the short term with new regulations Health. There are currently 18 such centres. introduced in January 2009 to expand the The second group of centres focuses on the insurance scheme to Saudi nationals working in social rehabilitation of the handicapped and is small and medium enterprises in the private run by the Ministry of Labour and Social sector. The large private sector companies Affairs. There are presently 14 centres already provide health insurance for their throughout the country that teach the mentally employers. and physically impaired social, educational and vocational skills designed to help them enter UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing: Healthcare opportunities in Saudi Arabia Medical Products generic pharmaceuticals and co-marketing with In 2007, the Saudi government established the multi-national companies. They supply around National Company for Unified Purchase of 10 percent of the total medicines market. The Medicines and Medical Appliances, to act as the balance is imported from the US and Europe sole supplier of medicines and medical but for the last few years generic brands are appliances to government health institutions. being imported from the neighbouring Gulf The company was set up to bring down the countries, Egypt and Jordan. The MOH remains prices of medical devices and pharmaceuticals the single largest customer for pharmaceuticals by preventing overcharging. The company is in in the Kingdom with annual purchases of its early phase and developing coordination approximately £150 million with the balance with other stake holders like SGH executive being purchased by GCC tenders, non-MOH Board and hospitals. government hospitals, private hospitals and pharmacies. The Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) have been given the task of developing and Accreditation enforcing a regulatory system for medical The rapidly increasing demand for health devices. This will include establishing licensing services has created renewed concerns for the procedures for manufacturers and suppliers. In government. So as to lessen the burden on what is a first step in developing a regulatory their budget, some MOH & non-MOH framework for medical devices, the SFDA in government hospitals have started business 2007 started the Medical Devices National centres, where private patients, irrespective of Registry (MDNR), which will become a their entitlements can get treatment by paying mandatory web-based project involving the for such services. With the expansion of registration of manufacturers, agents and healthcare insurance coverage the government suppliers in the country. From July 2009 all is looking at the possibility of leasing out regulatory responsibilities were handed over to government hospitals to private sector in the SFDA for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and future, as almost all the population by that food. time will be covered by insurance. It is now mandatory for local distributors / The Government is considering plans to ask agents to register and obtain MDEL (Medical Saudi hospitals to adhere to quality standards Device Establishment License) and all overseas by implementing quality improvement at suppliers to register their company and hospitals and some Canadian and US products with the SFDA. US FDA, Canadian, companies are working with the Saudi MOH on European, Japanese and Australian certification implementation and training of evaluators for are acceptable for product registration under inspecting the hospitals and providing MDNR. Manufacturers can register themselves accreditation. and their products either directly or through their local agent/distributors. Full details of Medical Equipment & Supplies SFDA requirements can be viewed at Market sources valued the medical equipment (please look for and supplies market in the Kingdom at £250 Implementing Rules ? IR). million in 2006, predominantly supplied through imports. Of this figure 69% accounted Pharmaceuticals for medical equipment. This is expected to According to market sources, imported grow to £400 million by 2015. German, US and pharmaceuticals account for around 82 percent Japanese companies lead in the export of large of the market with little manufacturing being medical equipment to the Kingdom whilst the undertaken locally. Generic medicines make up small to medium size equipment is supplied approx 5.8 percent of the market share. With mostly by the US, Germany, UK, Japan and the Saudi pharmaceutical market worth other European suppliers. approx. £2.6 billion in 2009, market analysts forecast that import of medicines will continue On the medical disposable market, in spite of to keep climbing in Saudi Arabia as it is the local production imports dominate the market largest consuming market in the GCC. and there is an increasing market. Most common medical disposable items are sourced The pharmaceuticals manufacturing industry from the Far East due to cheaper prices and continues to expand moderately with seven there is a general feeling in the market that local manufacturers producing a range of locally manufactured disposable items are of UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing: Healthcare opportunities in Saudi Arabia inferior quality. In view of an ever-increasing clinical and clinical research facilities, market for such items, there is potential for a manufacture of insulin & blood products, and new manufacturer that can tie up with a strong others. foreign partner with technical expertise of manufacturing niche disposable products. If you have any questions on the opportunities above, contact the UKTI contacts named in this Diabetes, cardiac and genetic issues are the report. Business opportunities aimed prime concern for the Saudi health officials and specifically at UK companies are added daily to the government is putting considerable UKTI?s website. These leads are sourced by our resources into this. Opportunities for UK staff overseas in British Embassies, High companies are in the fields of medical Commissions and Consulates, across all sectors training/teaching, medical equipment, niche and in over 100 markets. medical disposable, dental equipment, surgical implants e.g. orthopaedics, spine, You can be alerted to business opportunities on neurosurgery, rehab/special needs, geriatrics a regular basis by registering on the UKTI /home care, infection control (equipment, website. Find out more on UKTI?s business consultancy), diagnostic laboratories opportunities service on the UKTI website. (equipment and complete service), stem cell, genetics, pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals. Biotechnology With the rapid growth of industries in Saudi Arabia, the use of biotechnology in the fields of food and agriculture, medicine, and environment has become inevitable. In Saudi Arabia, biotechnology is being used both for research and commercial applications. The biotechnology market in the kingdom is still in its infancy but is indeed a challenging and growing one. The market, however, is dominated by medical products like Insulin, Vaccines, Interferon, and Heparins from multinational companies. Locally, there are now efforts in the direction of developing biotech products. A "Bio City" is planned in Jeddah city to serve this purpose. In the Kingdom, many ministries, scientific research institutes, and hospitals are involved in biotechnology research and its application. KACST, King Saud University, King Abdulaziz University, King Khalid Hospital, Ministry of Agriculture and King Fahad Medical City are a few of the many to mention. Saudi Arabia has recently established a biotechnology incubator to help start-up biotech companies for commercial and technological success. King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) has established the biotech incubator in cooperation with King Fahad Medical City, to be followed by a series of incubators to be set up in different disciplines. King Abdullah University and a biotechnology park in Jeddah have also been established. The biotechnology park in Jeddah is meant to be the largest scientific, medical, manufacturing, and economic centre in the Middle East. Projects include biogenetics, pre- UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing: Healthcare opportunities in Saudi Arabia Major events and activities UKTI contacts Arab Health Show, Dubai Syed Zaman Senior Trade & Investment Adviser Contact: Robert Kipps British Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Life Sciences Sector Team, London Tel: +966 1 488 0077 Email: Email: Time: Jan 2012 Saudi Medicare Show, Riyadh Abdul Muqtadar Trade & Investment Officer Contact: Syed Zaman British Consulate General, Jeddah Email: Tel: +966 2 622 5550 Time: April 2012 Email: New export events are added daily to the site and you can register to be alerted to them on a Mumtaz Abdulla daily, weekly or monthly basis Senior Trade & Investment Officer British Trade Office, Al Khobar UKTI?s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) Tel: +966 3 882 5300 provides grant support for eligible Small & Email: Medium Sized Enterprises (SME's) to attend trade shows overseas. Find out more about UKTI support for attendance at overseas Robert Kipps events Life Sciences Sector Team, London Tel: +44 207 215 4805 Email: UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing: Healthcare opportunities in Saudi Arabia Next steps - This includes: How UKTI can help ? Market reports British companies wishing to develop their ? Validated lists of agents/distributors business in the Saudi market are advised to ? Key market players or potential undertake as much market research and customers in the Saudi market planning as possible in the UK. UKTI?s team in ? Establishment of interest of such Saudi Arabia with its wide local knowledge and contacts in working with you experience can provide a range of services to British-based companies wishing to grow their business in global markets. ? Arranging appointments ? Organise seminars or other events for you to meet contacts and promote your company in the Saudi market This work is available via our Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) a chargeable service which assists British-based companies wishing to enter or expand their business in overseas markets. To find out more about commissioning this work, or accessing other UKTI services and specialist advice, please visit the UKTI website to find contact details for your local UKTI office. Whereas every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this document is accurate, neither UK Trade & Investment nor its parent Departments (the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office), accept liability for any errors, omissions or misleading statements, and no warranty is given or responsibility accepted as to the standing of any individual, firm, company or other organisation mentioned. Published 2011 by UK Trade & Investment. Crown Copyright © You may reuse this information (not including logos, images and case studies) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: This publication is also available from our website at or for more information please telephone +44 (0)20 7215 8000. UK Trade & Investment Sector briefing: Healthcare opportunities in Saudi Arabia
Posted: 28 July 2011, last updated 29 July 2011

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