Germany's Merck Serono to produce medicines in UAE

ABU DHABI, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Germany's Merck Serono said it

would team up with an Abu Dhabi firm to produce medicines for

the domestic and regional markets, the first multinational of

its kind to make branded products in the United Arab Emirates.

Merck Serono, the pharmaceutical arm of Merck KGaA

, will initially produce two of its products at

Neopharma's facilities in Abu Dhabi, the German firm's first

such partnership in the Middle East, the company's CEO said.

"The Middle East is very important and the fastest growing

region for our products," Stefan Oschmann told reporters. "We

plan to meet 100 percent of the regional demand for the

products," he added.

Oschmann declined to give specific figures but said revenues

from emerging markets accounted for a third of Merck's total.

The two products to be produced at Neopharma's facilities

are Euthyrox, a synthetic thyroid hormone and Glucophage, for

people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Production of both branded products will start in 2013.

The UAE suffers from a high prevalence of diabetes. Some

827,000 people between the ages of 20 and 79 have diabetes in

the UAE, according to the Ministry of Health.

Treatment of diabetes accounts for about 40 percent of the

UAE's overall healthcare expenditure, Amin al Amiri, assistant

under-secretary for Medical practice & licence at the ministry

of health said.

"This alliance will provide increased supply of trusted

branded medicines needed to help ease the diabetes crisis which

is straining the financial resources of the UAE," he said.

The Middle East is the largest market for Merck's diabetes

drug, Glucophage, which is currently imported from Europe.

(Reporting By Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Sami Aboudi and

Helen Massy-Beresford)

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