The top 10 pharma companies in Saudi Arabia ranked by sales value in USD millions MAT Q1 2019. These top 10 corporations account for 50 percent of total sales in the USD 8.2 billion Saudi pharma market. Global giants Pfizer, Sanofi, and Novartis make up the top three spots, but regional players Tabuk, Spimako and Hikma Pharma are also represented in the Top Ten.
US-headquartered Pfizer tops the list with USD 644 million in sales. Pfizer has been active in Saudi Arabia since the early 1960s, with a portfolio that includes internal medicines, vaccines, oncology, inflammation & Immunology, rare diseases, hospital healthcare, and cardiovascular diseases.
Pfizer began production at a USD 50 million manufacturing and packaging plant in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia in 2017. This was the company’s first such facility in the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and employs 124 people, 50% of which are Saudi nationals. 80 percent of its capacity meets 100 percent of local demand for 16 of Pfizer best-selling products representing five therapeutic areas.
The company is also the first to have received a “trading license” from The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), allowing Pfizer to have “100 percent foreign ownership” of its legal entity in Saudi Arabia with the ability to import, export, and trade in wholesale and retail products, equipment, and instruments.
French Big Pharma Sanofi sits in second place with USD 535 million in sales. With over 50 years of history in the Saudi market, Sanofi is active in oral anti-diabetics, insulin, cardiovascular diseases, thrombosis, oncology, transplantation, rare diseases, vaccines, and consumer healthcare.
In 2020, Sanofi celebrated the fifth anniversary of the launch of its Saudi production plant, also in King Abdullah Economic City. Speaking at a ceremony marking the occasion, Sanofi Saudi Arabia GM Dr Ahmed Serag said “Since the factory was launched five years ago where we started to produce medicines locally, Sanofi factory will always be remembered as a success story that the company is proud of. The ambition and determination of Sanofi team steered the company to create a brilliant brand that loomed in the sky of pharmaceutical manufacturing and became a leader in the provision of reliable treatment solutions at the domestic level.”
He added, “During the five years since the factory was set up, the work team was laser-focused on achieving excellence in services through a broad understanding of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 that placed among its aims the promotion of pharmaceutical manufacturing in the Kingdom. The presence of the factory in KAEC is of particular importance, as it not only targets the Saudi market, but the entire Middle East region.”
Novartis of Basel, Switzerland, is in third place with USD 420 million in sales. In 2019 the Swiss firm, present in a broad range of therapeutic areas globally, signed a manufacturing memorandum of understanding with local player Sudair Pharmaceuticals for a technology transfer that would allow Sudair to produce a number of its innovative cancer drugs the country. Saudi Arabian cancer rates are above world averages.
Novartis told Arab News in a statement that, ““Novartis has decided to strategically drive a long-term localisation plan, which includes the transfer of technology, co-manufacturing agreements with local pharma manufacturers, building capacities and strengthening its clinical research programs.”
Founded in 1994, Tabuk Pharmaceuticals is the largest private Saudi pharma company with more than 250 registered products, commercial operations in 25 countries, four active manufacturing sites, and over 2,000 employees. The Riyadh-headquartered firm’s USD 410 million in sales puts it in fourth place in the Top Ten list.
Tabuk, which focuses on the development, production, and marketing of generic medicines, country GI and diabetes, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, infection, and the central nervous system as its core therapeutic areas.
Fellow local player Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries & Medical Appliances Corporation (SPIMACO) sits in fifth place with USD 385 million in sales. Established in 1996, SPIMACO’s core business is the development, manufacturing, and sales of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The company has partnerships and alliances with a host of global Big Pharma players for co-marketing and co-promotion, brand acquisition, product divestment, contract manufacturing, licensing in, and licensing out.
London’s GSK is in sixth position with USD 375 million in sales. GSK has a strong focus and leading position in respiratory, HIV, vaccines and consumer healthcare and has been active in Saudi Arabia for 60 years and has 262 employees in the country.
The British firm, in partnership with local Banaja Holding Company Limited, was behind the first multination pharmaceutical plant in Saudi Arabia back in 1992, a facility that has since been repeated upgraded and modernised. 80 percent of the company’s product portfolio is locally manufactured in Jeddah. GSK was also the first company to manufacture vaccines in Saudi Arabia back in 2013.
The third company with Middle Eastern origins in the Top Ten list, Hikma Pharmaceuticals had USD 338 million in sales in the year up to Q1 2019. Formed in Jordan in 1978, in August 1996 Hikma became the first Arab company to export pharmaceutical products to the United States.
The firm, which focuses on generics, has been present in Saudi Arabia since 1998 and has three specialised plants in the country for general formulations, penicillin, and cephalosporin.
Danish mid-cap Novo Nordisk is a world leader in diabetes, as well as other serious chronic conditions such as haemophilia, growth disorders and obesity. USD 312 million in sales puts it at eighth place in the Top Ten list.
Novo Nordisk has been operating with local firm Salehiya in Saudi Arabia since 1991 and currently has more than 170 employees in the country. With 3.8 million people living with diabetes in Saudi Arabia today, a number expected to increase by more than 6.5 million by 2045, Novo has moved to localise the production of key diabetes products such as insulin in recent years.
MSD, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, sits in ninth place on the Saudi Top Ten list with USD 294 million in sales. With operations first set up in 1978, MSD Saudi Arabia is now a well-established subsidiary with departments ranging from Medical, to Sales, Marketing, Financial, Human Resources, Customer Services, Communications, and Vaccines.
The final spot on the list is taken by the UK’s AstraZeneca with sales of USD 240 million. Present in Saudi Arabia since 1980, AstraZeneca’s key therapeutic areas include cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, oncology, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity, neuroscience, and infection and vaccines.
In 2018, AstraZeneca signed a contract manufacturing operation arrangement with Saudi company SPIMACO (number five in this list) for the technology transfer of five medical products (11 SKUs) that valued at around SR 300 million (USD 80 million) per annum.