Oman Private Sector to Drive Development
As pharmaceutical sector development in Oman has been broadly based around government cost-containment efforts in recent years, the country has increasingly encouraged the private sector to shoulder more of the burden of healthcare. In common with several Arabian Gulf states, most notably including Bahrain, Oman has moved to exclude expatriate workers from the public health system, thereby creating a significant boost for the private healthcare industry.
The need to boost private provision, which is already growing according to its own economic imperatives, is a clear necessity. However, cost pressures on the government have also prompted moves toward cheaper drug production, with last year's creation of the Oman Pharmaceutical Products Company as a producer to accompany what was formerly the country's sole drugmaker, National Pharmaceutical Industries. Along with its position as an increasingly significant drug exporter within the region, Oman is also keen to source larger quantities of generic imports from regional producers such as Egypt.
Nevertheless, as the country's drug market is worth only US$84mn per year,
the impact of such changes is unlikely to be felt more widely than within the
member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council, which operates closed international
tenders for public sector drug procurement in the region. It is perhaps more
promising to reflect that the local sector, while undoubtedly small, is expected
to grow by an annual 10% to US$110mn by 2007.