Dr. Hassan Abbas to YT: “Yemen is a free and open market. We seek to build up a distinguished Yemeni-Egyptian partnership.” [Archives:2001/08/Interview]

February 19 2001

Dr. Hassan Abbas is one of the renowned Arab businessmen in the medical field. He is the chairman of board directors of PHARCO, the biggest drug company in Egypt. The company is exporting drugs to Yemen, the biggest consuming market. He arrived in Sana’a last Monday to hold talks with some officials in the Health Ministry and in the Drugs General Authority to study possibilities of establishing investment projects for the company in Yemen. He asserted his willingness to cooperate to provide treatment grants for Yemeni patients in Egypt. The company also provide grants of training for Yemeni pharmacists in Egypt. Jalal Al-Sharaabi of YT met with him and filed the following interview:
Q: Could you please brief us on the background of the company?
A: PHARCO is the biggest drug company in Egypt in regards to the manufacturing units. Last year the company produced 100 million cartons. The company covers 8% of Egypt medical needs and reaches 30 other countries. Yemen is at the top of the list of these companies. We also send drugs to the north of Europe, Romania, Saudi Arabia, china, Germany and US. We have offices in Romania and Uganda. In Yemen, we have an agent and we are thinking of cooperating more in terms of increasing the distributing outlets or manufacturing here in Yemen. The objective of this visit is to study the possibility of investment in Yemen.
Q: How do you find the Yemeni market?
A: Our agent in Yemen is doing a great job and there is a good scope of cooperation from the Yemeni side. We cooperate and train Yemeni pharmacists in Egypt. We also exchange experts and doctors.
Q: Are you planning to establish hospitals and other medical investment projects in Yemen?
A: We did not include hospitals in the plan we are going to discuss with the Yemeni officials. However, we can put this for the Egyptian Health Minister to consider and see what is best we can do. We may think of opening a manufacturing unit for our drugs in Yemen.
Q: How do you assess the investment atmosphere in Yemen?
A: Through our contacts with Mr. Abdulrashid al-Amri we felt that there is stability. I think Yemen is a promising open market and we in Egypt seek to build up strong ties and contact with this market.
Q: What distinguished PHARCO from other drugs companies?
A: The point is that we do our best to produce high quality of drugs with reasonable prices which is of heightened importance as we are joining the GATT and the open market policy. We plan to keep on the high quality of our drugs. This should be the objective of the whole Arab countries to maintain a good and high quality of drugs. Drugs can be very cheap, however, with a very low quality and this is not what we apply. The quality of our drugs match that of the western countries with the advantage of having reasonable prices.
Q: Smuggling has a negative impact in the past few years on drugs. Has it affected the sales of the company?
A: The company position in Yemen is very big. The company could overcome most of the smuggling obstacles which, in turn, started to disappear.
Q: What is your future plans in the Yemen?
A: We plan, hopefully, to increase our sales through studying the idea of manufacturing here in Yemen.
YT met also with Mr. Abdulrashid al-Amri, PHARCO agent in Yemen, who said “Though the company came to Yemen late in the 1993, it could mark its presence in the market within a two-year period. It could gain the trust of consumers through its high quality. It has become drugs company number one in terms of covering the market needs.
Mr. al-Amri said that the Health Ministry is cooperating with the company and viewed relations as distinguished and in accordance with the law.
In regards to the obstacles, he said “There is a random registration to the drugs and companies interring Yemen. I do request the authorities concerned to check quality of drugs before sanctioning investment activities for companies in the country.”
On the other hand, he indicated that talks and discussions are conducted to create a strong Arab industry that is able to compete in this era of globalization and open market. He noted that the company did a great deal in combating smuggling through providing drugs with reasonable prices.