Sanofi Egypt, a French multinational pharmaceutical company, invested a total of EGP 300m over 2016-2018, growing at 30% per year on average, and will continue to increase investment by 50% in 2019, Chairperson and Managing Director of Sanofi for Egypt & Sudan, Christelle Saghbini, said.
“Sanofi is present in Egypt since 1962, and we have constantly expanded and upgraded our manufacturing site since then. Moreover, we inaugurated our new distribution centre last year that delivers now 500,000 boxes per day with the aim to better meet the Egyptian patients’ needs. We also have export activities to countries in the MENA region,” Saghbini added.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Saghbini to learn about the company’s roadmap for allowing access to innovative medicines in Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How do you see Egypt’s investment climate?
Egypt is a very attractive market and probably one of the most promising in the region. The economic reforms helped the country restore stability, as shown by the positive evolution of the key macroeconomic indicators, which make Egypt a good place to invest.
Given the priority to healthcare by the government, the dynamic evolution of the Egyptian population and the unmet medical needs, the healthcare sector will have a key role to play in the coming years.
What is the size of your investments in the Egyptian market?
Sanofi is amongst the top three pharmaceutical companies in the market and we are in a leading position in therapeutic areas like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rare diseases, and neurological diseases. We also have a prevention portfolio, based on vaccines. We cover some acute diseases and we have consumer healthcare products. This diversified portfolio is one of the key strengths of Sanofi in Egypt. Sanofi Egypt employs around 1,200 persons. From the volume sold in Egypt, 83% is locally produced and our manufacturing site capacity is almost 120m units per year. We manufacture almost all galenic forms: tablets, syrups, creams, suppositories, ampoules, and vials. We also export to countries in the region.
What is your 5-year strategy?
As Egypt is looking to improve its healthcare system by progressively deploying universal health coverage (UHC), eradicating acute diseases, and decreasing the burden of non-communicable diseases, we believe that Sanofi can be part of the solution. As an innovative healthcare leader, our strategic roadmap is designed to expand access to healthcare in Egypt. Our first priority is to develop access for Egyptian patients that can benefit from our affordable quality treatments. Our second priority is about driving innovation. We will supply up to 10 new products within the next three years and our aim, beyond bringing innovative treatments, is to develop real integrated healthcare solutions for better patient management. This is why we embrace the innovation ecosystem through working with startups. For the second year, Sanofi Egypt participated in the Sanofi regional competition Afric@tech on health challenges and we are proud that this year, Egyptian startups presented at Vivatech four out of the 10 African finalists, and one of the Egyptian startups was among the winners. Third, Sanofi has a strong social responsibility in the country, which we will continue to foster through our different programmes that support the Sustainable Development Goals. As a leader in the pharmaceutical sector in Egypt, we know we can’t solve the healthcare challenges and achieve those priorities by ourselves. Improving healthcare in Egypt needs an ecosystem of partnerships in which innovation will be key, and it is one of our priorities to partner with the healthcare ecosystem. Last but not least, we will continue to invest in our people’s development and create an enjoyable place to work, so that Sanofi Egypt can remain a top employer in Africa.
How do you plan to contribute to reforms of Egypt’s healthcare?
As healthcare partners for more than half century in Egypt, we strive to transform innovations into integrated solutions that empower people to enjoy a healthier and better life. We are determined to work closely with governments and healthcare system stakeholders to build partnerships that advance public health. Egypt is an important country where Sanofi already has a rich heritage and footprint, and we look forward to continue supporting the Egyptian government in reforming its healthcare system and improving the health of the Egyptian population. We are proud to partner with the ministry of health to answer the unmet medical needs in Egypt in our areas of expertise. As an example, during the presidential visit of Emmanuel Macron in January 2019, Sanofi Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry of health to address key health challenges in the area of oncology and cardiovascular diseases from a holistic disease management perspective for the benefit of Egyptian patients. Our focus is on three projects: the first looks at improving the management of genito-urinary cancer patients, the second focuses on providing continuous medical education to transfer French expertise in dealing with emergency management of acute cardiac conditions, and the third one is assessing the feasibility of local manufacturing partnerships of new aspects of medicine production.
What about Sanofi’s CSR projects in Egypt?
Sanofi adopts the Sustainable Development Goals, and Sanofi Egypt has been granted the CSR award from the Federation of Egyptian Industries. Our CSR strategy is based on long-term programmes to have an impact on access to healthcare in vulnerable areas, to support communities and societies, and to adopt environment-friendly and energy-saving programmes for a healthy planet. As an example, we have been doing awareness campaigns for the last 10 years, particularly for diabetes. This includes awareness for better diagnosis as well as advice for healthier lifestyle and diabetes management. We contribute to reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases in the most vulnerable areas through our “KiDS” programme that is focused on educating parents and teachers on the prevention of Type 2 diabetes as well as the management of children suffering from Type 1 diabetes. So far, we served a total of 6,000 children, 8,000 parents, and around 200 teachers and community health workers in 12 schools in the KiDS programme in 2018 and we are planning for the academic year 2019/20 to expand the project in 23 schools, targeting 20,000 children, 14,000 parents, and 350 teachers and community health workers.
What do you think of Egypt’s health insurance system?
The plan to develop Universal Coverage by 2032 is very ambitious and it will provide appropriate medical care to the overall population. The collaborative approach between ministries, the stepwise approach of the plan are driving its success. I would like to congratulate the country on the kick-off of the programme in Port Said last week and I am personally proud to witness this important milestone for all Egyptians.
What is your opinion concerning government healthcare campaigns like “100 Million Health”?
The 100 Million Health campaign reflects the priority that is given to improve the health of Egyptians. It has rightly screened diseases like hepatitis C, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, as the prevalence of these diseases is high and it helped improve the diagnosis of the patients. I am really impressed by the way it was rolled out, and the speed of enrolment of probably one of the most important screening campaigns in the world. This initiative will have a major positive public health impact in the country.
Can you please give me a briefing about Sanofi globally? What about the R&D activities?
Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions. With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.
We are investing around €6bn yearly in R&D, and we have currently 81 R&D projects under development. We have seen significant advancement on our ambition to sustain innovation in R&D with the development of leading technology platforms and multiple high potential projects in late stage trials. We are confident that this portfolio will be the foundation for Sanofi’s future.