MEA Pharma Market to Reach USD 47 billion in 2022; Gilead’s Sales Skyrocketing


The Middle East and Africa, combined, represent the world’s fifth largest regional pharma market. According to IQVIA’s recent figures, most of the largest markets grew, although slowly due to COVID lockdowns, with Saudi Arabia in the top position. Multinational companies continue to “dominate” the region with Gilead Sciences experiencing huge success. Here are five trends in MEA pharma.


  1. Most large Middle East and Africa (MEA) pharma markets continue to grow, barring South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which remains at the top.

The overall MEA pharmaceutical market reached USD 30 billion in September 2021 and, according to IQVIA’s quarterly report published in January, the region’s market is forecasted to reach USD 47 billion in 2022.

The report has revealed that many large markets experienced slow growth due to covid-19 lockdowns. Saudi Arabia is the largest pharma market in the region with USD 8.5 billion in value, followed by Egypt with 6.3 billion. The rest of the top 5 includes South Africa (3.7), United Arab Emirates (2.8) and Algeria (2.4).

In Saudi Arabia, Roche is the fastest growing top MNC “mainly driven by top brands like Ocrevus, Hemlibra and Neorecormo.” In Egypt – the second fastest growing market in MEA – the hospital channel is carrying the load and accounts for 40 percent of the country’s sales.

In South Africa, the top 10 corporations account for 53 percent share in sales with Aspen, the national champion, leading the market. Similarly, half of the UAE market is owned by the top 10 companies.


  1. While local/regional companies keep growing, multinationals still control almost 60 percent of the market

Local and regional companies grew almost 10 percent due to their strong results in Lebanon, French West Africa and Kuwait. Their sales did not keep up in the UAE, Saudi Arabi and South Africa – three of the four largest markets. Hikma, Tabuk and Spimaco are the top three local companies, but only Tabuk grew double digits in the period analyzed by IQVIA.

Despite the success of local and regional players, Big Pharma kept its commanding lead in MEA with 58 percent of total sales. Sanofi, Novartis and GSK continue to be the top three.


  1. Gilead Sciences is the fastest growing pharma company in the Middle East and Africa in 2021

… we aim to grow our footprint in the Middle East even further, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where we established a scientific office this year. Saudi is a critical component to accelerating the development of our plans …

Gilead Science’s general manager for the Middle East, Federico Silva

The California-based company was by far the fastest growing company in the MEA region as it increased sales by 86 percent in a year-to-year basis. Of the company’s top 10 therapeutic areas, systemic antibacterials and oncologics led the way. The retail channel more than doubled in sales but only represented 10 percent of Gilead’s total sales.

The company’s general manager for the Middle East, Federico Silva, recently shared his objectives with PharmaBoardroom.

“Gilead’s leadership team in the Middle East have three key objectives. The first is to enhance access to all of Gilead’s currently available treatments in HIV, hepatitis, COVID-19, and antifungals. Additionally, we are working internally and with the health authorities to bring our latest innovations to market, particularly in oncology, specifically cell therapy and treatment for breast cancer. Thirdly, we aim to grow our footprint in the Middle East even further, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where we established a scientific office this year. Saudi is a critical component to accelerating the development of our plans,” he said.

Silva continued, “Saudi is a country with immense potential, which led us to establish a legal entity there to make our operations more robust. The government’s support for the strategic development of industries like biopharma coupled with the growing local demand for new medical products and improving access to innovation makes Saudi a particularly attractive investment destination for companies like Gilead.”


  1. Lantus (Sanofi), Humira (AbbVie), Lovenox (Sanofi) & Novorapid (Novo Nordisk) and Nexium (AstraZeneca) are the top 5 leading products in MEA

Sanofi’s Lantus (Insulin glargine) continued to be the market leader in MEA, according to IQVIA, due to significant contributions from Algeria and Saudi Arabia and a high growth in French West Africa.

Crestor from AstraZeneca was the fastest growing product with Saudi Arabia representing almost a quarter of sales. The statin – prescription drugs used to reduce blood levels of lipoprotein cholesterol – is present in all major markets except for Algeria.


  1. The retail channel “dominates” the MEA market with 68 percent share in value

“The growth of retail channel can be majorly attributed to expanding market in all markets in MEA,” reads the IQVIA report as it explains that retail is the dominant channel in the region accounting for 68 percent value sales in the region. The institutional channel increased in value but decreased in units sold; sales growth “can be attributed to Egypt.”

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