Ensuring the country’s “sanitary sovereignty” has long been a key policy for Morocco and its government. In order to encourage the local production of drugs, Law 17-04 was promulgated in 2006 requiring pharma companies to operate a manufacturing, control and storage site in order to apply for marketing authorization.
For multinational companies, this law means that in order to access the Moroccan market they must either invest in their own factories or partner with a local player that can register, manufacture (or import) and then distribute their products. However, partnering means they do not own the marketing authorization for their products.
This protectionist legal framework has led to an incredible development of local drug production, with about 50 manufacturers on the market. Morocco now stands out in Africa and the world as a country with one the highest percentage of locally produced drugs as a share of the overall total.
In recent years, however, the local industry has voiced concerns over the decrease in domestic production. According to Mohammed Houbachi, president of AMMG, the association of generic drug manufacturers, the percentage of locally produced drugs went from a high of 85 percent in the past to 60 percent today.
A new IQVIA study sponsored by LEMM, the association of multinationals, has sparked controversy by challenging this narrative. Looking at 3,437 references sold on the private market, which represents 75 percent of the total pharma market, it shows that eight out of ten drugs on the Moroccan market are produced locally. Moreover, six out of ten pharmaceuticals produced locally are originator drugs, showcasing the contribution of multinationals to the local industry through their partners or their own manufacturing footprint.
Based on this data, LEMM and IQVIA conclude that Morocco enjoys a “promising pharmaceutical landscape, making it a reference in terms of local production both for original drugs and generics.” However, some local commentators have labelled the study as misleading as it does not show the share of production by value.
The study also shows very low drug prices in general for both generics and original drugs as 87 percent of drugs are sold in pharmacies at a price below 8.5 euros. The authors thus stress that instead of concentrating on increasing local production or generic penetration, efforts should focus on increasing access to medicines by expanding health insurance coverage and improving access conditions for therapeutic innovation.