UAE Pharma’s First Steps into North America


LIFEPharma, a subsidiary of UAE-based VPS Healthcare, has signed a Dh 200 million (USD 55 million) deal with Canada’s Apotex to produce 120 million generic tablets and medicines for Motor Neurone Disease annually over the next 10 years.


This partnership is an important milestone, not only for LIFEPharma and VPS Healthcare, but also for the UAE

Dr Shamsheer Vayali, VPS Healthcare

Not only does the tie-up represent one of the largest pharmaceutical deals in the history of the Middle East, it is also the first time that UAE-produced drugs will have been exported to North America in such volume.


As Dr Shamsheer Vayali, VPS Healthcare’s chairman and managing director noted, “This project represents an important milestone in the strategy to make the UAE a global hub for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovative industries.”


“None of these therapeutics have ever been manufactured in the UAE or the GCC for export — or at these volumes — to North American markets before.”


However, LIFEPharma is currently an outlier rather than representative of a wider trend – its Jebel Ali manufacturing plant is the UAE’s only facility to have been certified by the US FDA. The facility has the capacity to produce a billion tablets, 300 million capsules and 30 million liquids per year. Moreover, the plant is the country’s first to have been approved to manufacture and export to strictly regulated markets including the UK, Australia, South Africa, Portugal and Taiwan.


Vayali is nonetheless keen to play up the importance of the deal for both the company and the country. “This partnership is an important milestone, not only for LIFEPharma and VPS Healthcare, but also for the UAE,” he stated.


“The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is an innovation-led, value-based growth engine for the UAE’s economy. It combines the prowess of advanced technologies with the expertise of highly-skilled professionals, allowing the UAE to successfully compete in the global marketplace and move beyond its current trade and logistics standing.”


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