Algerian pharmaceutical boom: A step towards health and food security

**In a few decades, Algeria has become one of the leading pharmaceutical producers in Africa. More than 2.5 billion euros worth of medicines were produced last year. Some 200 production units cover almost 70% of the country’s generic needs, and this self-sufficiency is good news for the country and the region, as the international market remains volatile. **

This profound transformation of the pharmaceutical industry strengthens the health security of the region, which can in turn contribute to ensuring food security and many laboratories across the country are participating in the effort.

Frater Razes Laboratories

An example is the Frater Razes laboratories. In the midst of a pandemic, it marketed an anticoagulant which was prescribed to patients with Covid-19. It was the first time that Algeria produced biosimilar medicines: made from living organisms. Abdererahmane Boudiba is the general secretary of Frater Razes,

“The world today is moving towards biotechnologies. We have anticipated this trend in the same way as international laboratories through pharmaceutical innovation, by directing our production towards biosimilars and the creation of products derived from cell culture. This product was imported for 20 years, ensuring self-sufficiency for our country, for Algerian patients.

The laboratory now plans to increase its exports. But another priority is to take a further step towards self-sufficiency and thanks to her research, she hopes to soon be able to synthesize organic substances. Hamza Mansour is the Managing Director,

“If we carry out this biosynthesis, we will not have to import raw materials. We will manufacture our own raw materials, we will ensure our biosynthesis, our manufacturing from A to Z.”

Several reforms have led to a paradigm shift in the country, where health products have moved from an economic burden to a lever for growth.

Biopharmaceutical research and development

Biopharmacy is another private laboratory which has recently marketed oncological products, anti-cancer drugs, the development of which requires complex infrastructures and massive investments. Ayadi El-Ghani is the production manager,

“It is important to know that the pharmaceutical industry is the locomotive of Algerian general industry in Algeria. This is an industry that has experienced double-digit growth over the past twenty years. The challenge now is to acquire the know-how for the production of new technologies. We have the ambition for next year to switch to hormonology. And why not switch to biologics in the near future?”

In Biopharm’s research and development laboratory, it develops its next products in collaboration with the Algerian scientific and academic community. The aim is to develop a relatively young industry on a global scale.

But while the Algerian pharmaceutical sector currently covers 70% of the needs of the Algerian population in generic drugs, how to produce the remaining 30%? We asked Idir Boutmeur, head of the R&D center at Biopharm,

“The other 30% are products that are quite difficult to develop, innovative products. It all depends on innovation, which is the key to the success of any industry, and to find these products, you have to invest in human resources, in local , in Research and Development centers.

Biocare: first African company to produce insulin

A few kilometers away, the firm Biocare became the first company in Africa to manufacture insulin in pen form. This has further reduced the import bill because the management of diabetes is one of the main items of expenditure for Algerian social security. Abdelkader Amraoul, is the managing director,

“It is a unique technique and technology on our African continent. It is a vital product for the Algerian patient and the patient of our African continent.”

Saidal Public Laboratory & Food Security

To give life to its health strategy, Algeria relies on the public laboratory Saidal. It was one of the first in Africa to produce an anti-Covid vaccine, Coronavac, in collaboration with China. The company is focused on Africa and supports the development of an integrated continental industry, with specialized regional hubs. Fetoum Akacem is the CEO of Saidal Group,

“Our African partners are increasingly demanding and want part of the pharmaceutical industry to be present in their country. And Saidal can offer that. You know, ‘when your health is fine, everything is fine’. So when we begins to give this health the safety of the populations, food safety will certainly follow. And these are the two most important areas for the development of Africa and Algeria.

One of the challenges will be convincing major drug donors, such as the World Health Organizationto buy African medicines in order to create added value on the continent.