JEDDAH: Japanese drug-making giant, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., is eyeing Saudi Arabia as a key Middle East market as it aims to boost global sales by more than 50 percent to 5 trillion yen ($48.01 billion) over the next decade.
The Tokyo-headquartered company has placed its focus on providing products to the Kingdom in areas such as oncology, rare diseases, gastroenterology, and plasma-derived therapies.
Rodrigo Rodriguez, Takeda’s general manager for the Middle East, told Arab News: “From 2021 on, we expect growth in the Kingdom driven by these highly innovative inline products and the launches that we anticipate in key therapeutic areas.”
Over the next two years, the research-based firm plans to launch five new products in Saudi Arabia: Adynovate for the blood-clotting disorder hemophilia; Firazyr for acute attacks of hereditary angioedema (HAE), an allergic reaction resulting in skin swelling; HyQvia, which helps boost the immune system; and two other drugs for the treatment of rare and serious types of cancer.
Last year, Takeda launched two new products in the Kingdom, namely Takhzyro for HAE, and Cuvitru for the immune system.
“We believe we have a compelling portfolio with a high level of innovation in order to help patients in the Kingdom to improve their lives,” Rodriguez said.
He pointed out that while the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic had impacted every sector in the country, the main challenge was to ensure products got to clients and a continuity of supply was maintained.
“Considering the nature of our portfolio, we have potential lifesaving treatments which are highly innovative products. We believe that we were able to mitigate potential fluctuations and deviations in terms of supply and the overall results around the globe and in Saudi Arabia.
“Because of the nature of our products, we really believe that our key focus should be ensuring supply to patients in order to avoid any disruption in the treatment,” he added.
Despite the pandemic, the Saudi pharmaceutical market was expected to see continued growth over the coming years. According to a recent report by Coherent Market Insights, the market was last year estimated to be worth $10.191 billion and is predicted to have shown a compound annual growth rate of 7.3 percent by 2027. Saudi government reforms and increased healthcare expenditure were also forecast to aid market growth.
Coherent Market Insights said government data showed that healthcare and social development spending reached $45.9 billion in 2019. “Saudi Arabia is a core market for Takeda, and a positive outlook is anticipated by us and by analysts. The Kingdom is the largest pharmaceutical market in the Middle East, and we are happily expanding,” Rodriguez said.
And he had similar hopes for the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the wider region. “At the same time, we are also introducing new products in the GCC region that will accelerate our offer to patients impacted by rare and complex diseases regionally,” he added.
Takeda, which has a presence in Jeddah and Riyadh, was last year named best employer in the Middle East for the second consecutive year and also received the Top Employers Institute’s prestigious Global Top Employer status for the fourth year in a row.
In July 2017, the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority mandated the private sector to boost the employment of Saudi nationals, as part of its Saudization program.
Rodriguez said: “Saudization is a priority for us, and we are exceeding the government’s requirements. The required number for customer-facing teams was 80 percent by December 2020, and we are currently at 84 percent. By June, we are expecting a 100 percent Saudization as per the guidance.”
He noted Takeda’s proud record of hiring female employees. “At the beginning of 2020, we more than doubled the number of females in our organization.”