Arnaud de Rincquesen – Managing Partner, Deloitte: Companies are willing to come to Algeria. It’s an interesting market. What matters once again is to have a job market. The biggest issue for a company settling in Algeria is to find peo- ple with specialized skills and a good academic level. Handling dry or injectable production sites requires training. Training has a cost – there are technicians to train and schools and universities have to offer such majors.
Frederic Boucheseiche – Publisher of PharmaBoardroom: Mr. Sahraoui, can the in- dustry play a part in this through clinical research? Can clinical research be decentralized to other Algerian cities?
Salah Eddine Sahraoui – CEO, Clinica Group: Our job market for clinical research is hospitals. Luckily hospitals are not restricted to three cities, but spread through 48 ad- ministrative regions. We work with 20 to 25 of these regions – the biggest in Algeria. We work more and more with doctors –for global studies (phase II and III). It’s a real scientific added value for us. It’s also a real added value for Algerian doctors, for our healthcare system as a whole, for the success of new therapies. It brings Algeria to a whole new level –a global level. Medicines have to be manufactured the same way in Algeria at they are in the United States or in France. The same is true of clinical trials: they have to be con- ducted locally but with the same global standards and clinical practices.
There’s a real added value for us there, as there’s a clear political will. Clinical research is part of the Health Ministry’s strategic priorities. We feel great support every day. We have been working on clinical trials here since 2007, during which time we have seen growth in this area of 300 percent, which is fantastic.
Habib Bennaceur – North & West Africa Regional Manager, AstraZeneca: When it comes to localization I feel that it’s a bit of a “chicken and an egg” situation, because when you look at investment, you also have to take into account human resources. You have to keep in mind that when you build a manufacturing site it’s not only about walls and machines. You also have to be able to afford human resources – even if they have to come from abroad at first so that expatriates can train your staff. And then you can have a 100% Algerian management.
Today when my staff in charge of the industry look at potential partners in manufacturing, there are a number of options: there’s a hub around Constantine, and people creating structures around Oran. More and more people are setting up factories and are able to run those factories. When you’re seriously interested in this business, you really have to think about human resources among other considerations.
Salah Eddine Sahraoui: When we first started the company here in Algeria, in the field of clinical trials, we were the only two people in Algeria that had any kind of background in this area, and the concept was relatively unknown in the country back in 2007 of a CRO.
One of the first questions we had to ask oursel- ves was how to train and recruit people to come and work with us. Should we train them first and then recruit them? Or should we recruit first then train our new staff? How should we start.
It was at this time that the economic crisis star- ted in Europe, solving a lot of our problems, because Europe started to look a little less attractive to the three million Algerians living and working in France, some of whom decided to come back. And some of these had worked in the field of clinical research.
Today, we are 135 people in the company, all Algerians. After creating our initial network, we worked with the faculty of pharmacy and agreed to recruit the top three in each graduating class in the field of clinical research, and to train them in France and elsewhere in the world.
That’s why we shouldn’t wait for the people to be there first: we as an industry need to create the need.