The Ministry of Health and Prevention has urged drug companies to offer medicine to the UAE before they are approved in the countries that made them.
It has asked pharmaceutical companies to seek marketing approval for drugs to give the Emirates' health sector access to more medicine than at present, to improve patient care, while also boosting medical tourism.
“Local factories can start manufacturing procedures and apply for marketing approval for similar products during the two years preceding the end of the protection period for the innovative product,” said Dr Amin Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing.
“Producers can tap into this opportunity to market their products in the country as soon as the protection period for innovative product ends.”
Breakthrough treatments for Covid-19, such as sotrovimab, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, are already in use in the Emirates.
Lung cancer drug sotorasib, made by US manufacturer Amgen under the brand name Lumakras, is also pre-approved for the UAE market.
Dr Al Amiri said greater co-operation with drug manufacturers to improve productivity in the UAE would encourage more pharmaceutical companies to invest in the country.
In 2019, a new era of drug manufacturing began when Dubai company Life Pharma signed a 10-year contract to produce billions of tablets in Jebel Ali to export to Canada.
The manufacturer, a subsidiary of UAE-based VPS Healthcare, signed a deal with Apotex to produce 120 million tablets annually.
Life Pharma produced an inventory of drugs to be shipped abroad, including generic medicine and those used to ease symptoms of motor neurone disease.