Hikma Pharmaceuticals, the Jordanian drug maker, posted a healthy net income rise of 33 per cent last year to US$107.3 million (Dh394.1m) from a year earlier as it gained a stronger foothold in the MENA region. This year, the company will focus on launching new products to cater to the changing healthcare profile of the Middle East, including its first cancer drug, which is seeking approval.
Changing diets and lifestyles are leading to new health problems in the Arab world, said Mazen Darwazah, the vice chairman of Hikma. "The needs are shifting in the Middle East from regular diseases to modern-age diseases," he said. "This has to do with the food supplies and changing demographics we are witnessing." Multinational pharmaceutical companies are increasingly targeting the Gulf in the midst of a period of massive healthcare investment and growing populations.
The regional healthcare sector is expected to be worth $60 billion by 2025, according to industry estimates. While the market for drugs grew at an average of 10 per cent last year in the region, Hikma experienced overall growth of 12.4 per cent, Mr Darwazah said. Its market share increased to 3.7 per cent, compared with 3.4 per cent in 2008. "In every country we are working in, we had growth," he said.
Hikma is also planning to increase its manufacturing capacity. It already has plants in Jordan and Germany, which manufacture generic drugs for export to the US and the region. Libya and Iraq are two markets where the company is positioning itself to become a bigger player as demand increases. Last year, Hikma had $12m in sales in Iraq and brought in the country's first private-sector promotion team to market drugs to clinics and hospitals.
The company is also studying the possibility of building a manufacturing plant in Iraq to take advantage of what Mr Darwazah said were the beginnings of an economic resurgence. "At one point we had 10 per cent market share in Iraq, but during the war we had to reduce our size," he said. "We are scanning opportunities and investing in our business there. It's a populous nation and one of the major pharmaceutical markets."
Hikma, which was founded in 1978, launched 129 products and had 114 product approvals last year, the company said. The company sells off-patent generic drugs under its own brands in the region and exports generic and injectable drugs to the US and Europe. Its products include Amoclan, Prograf and Suprax. Hikma had revenues of $639.6m last year, a 12.5 per cent increase from 2008. Diluted earnings per share increased to 40.1 cents from 29.6 cents, beating analyst estimates.