DUBAI: Global pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and the UAE’s largest medicinal drugs manufacturer Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries (Julphar) have signed a major agreement on Monday to collaborate on merchandising core medicinal products in the region. This alliance is anticipated to be a booster dose for developing the UAE’s healthcare sector as well as improving access to global standard treatment options for the patients in the region, officials said. With this pact, MSD and Julphar will together promote treatments for cardiovascular disease, pain and inflammation, women’s health and dermatology. The agreement is an initial step, with the possibility of expanding into further areas of development. Andrew Miles, Managing Director of MSD Gulf, indicated that the pharmaceutical industry is going through massive change and growth. The current value of the UAE drug market is 1.2 billion US Dollars. “The pharmaceutical market is registers a 10 per cent annual increase rate, which is attributed to the increasing population, tolerant government policies and adaptation to international healthcare standards,” he told The Gulf Today on the sidelines of the signing ceremony. Dr Ayman Sahli, Chief Executive Officer of Julphar, said that the company has aligned with MSD in the hopes of exchanging world-class knowledge with the global giant. The agreement will tie into the government’s efforts towards developing quality and accessibility within the pharmaceutical sector. “This is the result of shared values and principles of healthcare in the MENA region. Bothe the local and global pharmaceutical manufacturers strive for the highest standards of quality and ethics, focusing on the patient welfare,” he added. “Julphar successfully planned and implemented 13 different brand launches during 2011 in five key markets: UAE, Egypt, Iraq, KSA and Lebanon. Most of the launches were for key products in the chronic disease areas such as cardiovascular, diabetes and respiratory diseases that are predominantly high-prevalence diseases in the GCC and Middle East region. These brands are expected to form the future platform for Julphar growth in the coming years,” Dr Sahli elaborated. According to Miles, this pact underscores the central role the UAE Government plays, in providing a stable policy environment that recognizes and rewards innovative medicines, and provides incentives for continued investment. “The agreement is expected to develop the local economy and benefit patients across the region, in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and UAE, in terms of access to innovative treatment.