Quietly, sedately, Morocco’s pharmaceutical sector is shining. Thanks to decades of experience, the domestic pharmaceutical industry is strong, with a well-developed base of local producers that today manufacture products to high international standards.
One place where the quality of Moroccan pharma is well known is in sub-Saharan Africa: Morocco has quietly become the second largest African exporter of drugs right after South Africa. Indeed, Moroccan pharma companies have been making inroads as exporters for years now, benefitting from the vision of King Mohammed VI to open Morocco to the south. Today, Morocco exports between seven and eight percent of its domestic pharma production, an increase of 21.7 percent in turnover since 2012/13.
“Our success grew from a framework where pharma companies needed to produce locally, which led to industrial investments in Morocco,” explains Mohamed Houbachi, president of both Polymédic, a local producer, and AMMG, the Moroccan generics association. “This was a tremendous force in the development of the sector.”
As well as looking to continue this expansion southwards, many Moroccan companies are now looking at the possibilities beyond Africa – to the north, Europe, and to the west, the US. Laprophan, one of the leading Moroccan companies, has its sights on more developed markets. “We are targeting Europe and North America especially for our patented medicines,” explains Ali Bennis, the company’s president. “We can benefit from the free trade agreement with the United States to enhance our exports to this high potential pharmaceutical market.”
In its 2015 Africa Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum identified Morocco as the most competitive country in North Africa. Indeed, the country has become increasingly attractive for MNCs and many multinationals have chosen to establish their regional headquarters in the country, including Roche, GSK and Novartis, a nod to its political stability and liberal economy.
The local outlook seems positive: the percentage of the population with access to medicine is only set to increase as the government aims to reach universal healthcare through various social security programs. Worth USD 1.51 billion, the Moroccan pharma market is expected to grow four percent annually until 2018.
Nevertheless, the situation of the local market remains challenging. In the short term, part of the strategy for making universal healthcare is a series of price cuts: although in 2014, volumes increased 2.8 percent, the market in terms of value shrank by 4.7 percent during the same period and with a GDP per capita of USD 3092.61 in 2013, compared to USD 5,360.70 in neighboring Algeria, and healthcare spending per capita of USD 438 in 2013, compared to Algeria’s USD 778, the country lags far behind its regional counterparts.
Nevertheless, companies remain optimistic. “I believe that now, the worst is behind us: 2014 was really an annus horribilis for the sector,” admits Abdelmajid Belaiche, director general of the Moroccan Association of Pharmaceutical Industry director general (AMIP). “Despite this, we hope that in 2015 things will start again on the right foot.”
This new Healthcare & Life Sciences Review on Morocco, available today for free download at PharmaBoardroom.com, aims to put the country’s pharma sector in the spotlight for an international audience.
Mohamed Houbachi – President, AMMG
Abdelilah Lahlou – General manager, Iberma
Abdelmajid Belaiche – Director general, AMIP
Jacques Henri Charpentier – Director general, Bayer Healthcare Maghreb
Mohamed El Bouhmadi – CEO, ZenithPharma
Driss Chaoui – Director general, Afric-Phar
Haissam Chraiteh – President and director general, Sanofi Morocco
Hubert de Ruty – President, MIS
Khalid El Attaoui – Director general, Tecnimede Morocco
Brahim Oulammou – Director general, Promopharm
Ayman Cheikh Lahlou – Director general, Cooper Pharma
Myriam Lahlou Filali – CEO, Pharma 5 Group
Ali Bennis – President, Laprophan
Mehdi Zaghloul – country president and general director, Novartis Morocco
Lamia Berrada & Samir Bachouchi – chairman and general manager, Bottu
Radia Chmanti Houari – president and general manager for North Africa, GSK
Ralf Halbach – general manager, Roche Morocco