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Saudis prefer Western-made medicines

52 percent of the 250 male and female respondents aged between 20 and 60 said they would rather purchase a Western-made brand

By Sarah Abdullah / 7 June 2013

Saudi Arabia is the largest pharmaceutical market in the Gulf, valued at SR 19.1 billion, according to a report issued by Alpen Capital on the GCC pharmaceutical market. Despite these figures, Saudi customers have cited concerns regarding the quality and effectiveness of locally manufactured medicine.

Saudi Arabia has one of the largest manufacturing industries, with around 15 to 20 manufacturing facilities. However, the majority of what is produced locally is exported, while 15 percent is supplied to the 4,000 pharmacies across the country.

In a survey conducted by Arab News, 52 percent of the 250 male and female respondents aged between 20 and 60 said they would rather purchase a Western-made brand rather than rely on Arab or locally manufactured pharmaceuticals.

Among the other participants, 24 percent indicated that they would try an Arab-made medicine, but only if it was cheaper than its Western counterpart. On the other hand, 21 percent expressed the view that they trust Arab–made medicine regardless of the price. Three percent were undecided.

The respondents, which expressed a preference for Western-made pharmaceutical brands listed trust as the main reason governing their choice.

“The reason I would rather buy medicine produced in America or Europe is because I feel it is of better quality, as these countries adhere to strict guidelines,” Mai Ghazi, a 28-year-old Saudi mother of two, told Arab News.

She added that countries such as Syria, Egypt and Jordan do not monitor the quality of the medicine and substitute cheaper ingredients as alternatives.

“I feel that Arab drug manufacturers are just keen on making a profit without taking into consideration people’s health,”Ghazi said.

Agreeing with her, Nowaf Ibrahim, a pilot and father of one, expressed the opinion that pharmaceutical products produced in the Middle East are not as effective as their counterparts in the US or European countries.

“I have noticed that cold remedies made locally, for instance, do not treat illnesses as effectively as those produced abroad. For this reason, I usually bring medicine from America rather than rely on local products,”he said.

He added that many of the drugs produced by Arab states have been discovered to have harmful side effects, which may only be discovered years after their presence in local markets.

“I would rather purchase medicine which is more expensive than take the risk and suffer the consequences of cheaper local manufactures,” he concluded.


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