ORGANIC GROWTH

Sharjah 2015 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ahmed Yacout, CEO of Medpharma, on the UAE's growing potential to become the center for the global pharmaceutical sector and Medpharma's expansion plans in the region.

 Ahmed Yacout
BIOGRAPHY
Ahmed Yacout is the founder of IPS Holding and CEO of Medpharma, having previously served as General Manager of Sanofi Near East. He began his career in the pharmaceutical industry in 1984 in Egypt with Roussel Uclaf, then Rhone Poulenc Rorer (RPR). His experience spans the MENA region. Being a strategist and a result-oriented person, he has been instrumental in growing the business and predicting potential market opportunities, which he showed by engineering the successful acquisition of Medpharma Pharmaceutical & Medical Industries LLC (Medpharma), in partnership with the global pharmaceutical company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.

What has been the impact of the acquisition of Medpharma by IPS and Valeant, and how will this enable the company to broaden its footprint in the region?

There are two broad impacts, the first being the impact on Medpharma and the second the impact on Valeant and IPS. The impact on Medpharma is significant because we are challenging each and every thing in the factory here. We began with raising standards of quality to match international levels, which were already approved by GCC authorities as well as the Saudi FDA. In line with this, we have introduced standard operating procedures. We are also in the process of increasing our employee numbers, since we are increasing our output volumes, and we have put in significant efforts to train people in line with international standards. The impact on Valeant is significant as well, because it is not as established in the Middle East, in spite of it being a large company globally. Valiant decided to enter the Middle East partly through acquiring Medpharma, and using it as a stepping-stone to enter the market. A good turn-around for Medpharma will mean that the entire Middle Eastern market will open up for Valeant.

How would you describe the growth plans for Medpharma for the next five years?

We are forecasting triple digit growth in the first three years, followed by high double-digit growth. There are a lot of opportunities in Sharjah, and we are using Sharjah as a base from which to export to the whole GCC region. Additionally, we are also expanding our presence in North Africa.

How would you describe Sharjah as a base of operations for Medpharma?

Sharjah will be the core of our operations, and we will be exporting everything from here. The base will always be in Sharjah, even if we enter into joint ventures with companies in other countries, because our facilities in Sharjah are economically feasible from a labor and resources standpoint. Also, we are getting a lot of support from the government and things run smoothly from a legislative point of view. The opportunities are coming from the openness of the government. There is complete transparency and there is no discrimination, and this is why they are attracting people.

What is your assessment of the current investments in the UAE's pharmaceutical sector, and how does it impact on Medpharma?

All the big international pharmaceutical companies are coming to the UAE, and in 10 years the UAE will be the center of the pharmaceutical industry. For Medpharma it will be the same, but we were here before others, so we are one step ahead. We will maintain this advantage because we came earlier and we will capitalize on our organic growth and will possibly undertake more acquisitions in the GCC.

The UAE's pharmaceutical market was estimated to have been worth $2.4 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $3.7 billion by 2020. What is your outlook for the sector, and how would you describe Medpharma's role in this growing market?

The market will grow to at least more than $4 billion by 2020 if the sector keeps up the current pace.

What are your company's expectations for the coming year?

The pharmaceutical market will continue to grow and we will double, or possibly more than double, the size of Medpharma's operations. We will thus continue our growth as well. In 2016 we will open more countries, especially in East Africa and the English- and French-speaking countries.