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Interview Spotlight: Samir Khalil, Executive Director of PhRMA Middle East and Africa

In a recent interview with Asharq Alawsat, Samir Khalil, Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Middle East and Africa, discussed the ongoing need for strong intellectual property (IP) protections, increased investment in biopharmaceutical research and development and global collaboration to foster a robust innovation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia. Although the Saudi Arabian biopharmaceutical market is the largest in the region, these initiatives, coupled with policy reform, will be fundamental to continued growth and achievement of the government’s Vision 2030 goals.

Following are three key takeaways from the interview:

  • Strong IP Protections: Effective protection of innovation is critical to discovering breakthrough treatments and vaccines, like those currently in development for COVID-19. Strong IP rights increase clinical research opportunities, which will improve the local medical research infrastructure and provide growth opportunities for Saudi Arabia.
  • Increased Investment: Biopharmaceutical companies invested $20 million in clinical trials throughout Saudi Arabia in 2016, which has since increased by 20%. But there is opportunity to attract even more investment, specifically in early clinical research and R&D efforts, which can provide both health and economic benefits.
  • Expanded Collaboration: Global and regional cooperation play a large role in facilitating the development, manufacturing and trade of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. The biopharmaceutical industry has relied on unprecedented global collaboration amidst the pandemic to research and test potential COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, while continuing to innovate for the future.

Khalil underscores that robust innovation ecosystems will allow the biopharmaceutical industry to continue bringing life-saving products to patients in Saudi Arabia and around the world to address COVID-19 and other unmet medical needs.



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