Key takeaways from our executive roundtable in Dubai

On May 10, FrontierView hosted its healthcare executive roundtable in Dubai, bringing together a group of executives across the med-tech, pharmaceutical, and life sciences industries to discuss key market access and reimbursement trends in MENA healthcare markets. Below is a summary of the key challenges and opportunities identified by healthcare companies in the region and some actions they are taking to mitigate risk and drive growth.

Managing distributors and local partners

  • Healthcare companies are reviewing their distributor management strategies across the MENA region. 
  • In Egypt, currency depreciation, rising operating costs, and FX controls have meant that some healthcare companies have not been paid since August 2022. 
  • In Algeria, localization pressures have pushed firms to consider having a more direct presence in the market in order to maintain market share.
  • Actions that firms are considering include
    • Switching to a larger distributor that has more favorable access to credit
    • Moving from exclusive to non-exclusive contracts in order to diversify revenue streams
    • Establishing a more direct presence in key markets by acquiring local partners

Capturing public funding on healthcare

  • Companies see significant funding opportunities for healthcare in the MENA region, particularly among energy exporting markets. However, fiscal consolidation policies in the GCC, political instability in Iraq and Kuwait, and localization policies in Algeria make capturing this funding opportunity challenging.
  • In Egypt and Lebanon, economic woes have limited prospects for public spending on healthcare in 2023.
  • Actions that firms are considering include
    • Showing support for localization and public healthcare initiatives in the GCC in order to support pricing conversations and increase exposure to public tenders.
    • Evaluating whether there is a short- to medium-term opportunity in Egypt’s public healthcare space. Some firms have ceased selling into the public sector altogether, while others are engaging in small token acts to maintain positive public sector relations.
    • Bolstering commercial activities with private healthcare providers in order to drive growth amid a complex public sector picture.

Navigating a multitude of stakeholders

  • A constantly shifting stakeholder map is causing challenges for many healthcare companies. This is especially true in Saudi Arabia, where firms must engage with NUPCO, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Saudi Food & Drug Authority, Ministry of Investment, Council for Health Insurance, and the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority, which often have diverging or competing agendas.
  • Increased consolidation in the UAE’s healthcare space, primarily driven by M&A activity, is causing companies to rethink the future outlook for the market. 
  • Actions that firms are considering include
    • Regularly updating the stakeholder map to track changing priorities and communicating these changes with corporate to ensure that the complexity of the MENA region is understood.
    • Engaging all stakeholders in Saudi Arabia consistently in order to navigate potential misalignments between healthcare authorities. 
    • Increasing investments in government affairs teams to ensure the right talent in the MENA region.

Preparing for a shift toward value-based healthcare

  • Companies are feeling the beginning of a shift toward value-based healthcare (VBHC) in the MENA region. 
  • Some firms reported being asked to provide more real-world evidence and data in pricing conversations and demonstrate more value upfront when bidding for tenders. 
  • Firms are most hopeful about the prospects for VBHC in Dubai, due to the implementation of Ejadah, and feel that the primary focus in Abu Dhabi is to reduce healthcare expenditure rather than incentivize patient outcomes. 
  • In Saudi Arabia, firms have yet to see the implementation of a formal health technology assessment (HTA) system, but have seen some initial steps from the MOH and NUPCO to promote outcomes based procurement. 
  • Actions that firms are considering include
    • Investing in and upskilling their own talent, including considering hiring health economists, in order to adapt to shifting procurement preferences. 
    • Exploring ways to be strategic partners in the shift to VBHC, as current efforts have primarily been from healthcare authorities with little engagement from industry.
    • Communicating to corporate the need for more local data collection and clinical trials in order to engage in data-driven conversations with healthcare authorities. 
    • Learning from other strategies of teams within their organization that operate in other markets and who are also seeing a shift to VBHC.

As you refine your one-, three- or five-year plans, it’s important to think carefully about the key market access and reimbursement trends in MENA healthcare markets and your ability to mitigate risk and drive growth. Against the backdrop of our post-pandemic, post-inflation-shock “new normal” for the global economy, FrontierView is standing by to support you.

At FrontierView, our mission is to help our clients grow and win in their most important markets. We are excited to share that FiscalNote, a leading technology provider of global policy and market intelligence has acquired FrontierView. We will continue to cover issues and topics driving growth in your business, while fully leveraging FiscalNote’s portfolio within the global risk, ESG, and geopolitical advisory product suite.

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