An Introduction to MENA
With pressure on the pharmaceutical and biotech development industries to find new patient populations, they have rightly turned their focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA*) region. MENA has a total estimated population of around 500 million people with a young demographic profile, active population rates and an average life expectancy of more than 70 years.
The former, somewhat accurate, view of MENA as an unattractive market and an invalid region for performing industry-sponsored clinical trials was due to a number of reasons including political instability, multiple languages and culture barriers. Adding to these negative points was a lack of procedural and regulatory transparency. But this view is now shifting when faced with growth in the region’s scientific and regulatory competence.
The MENA region has built a strong clinical research capability over the past few decades. It also shows a significant growth in biomedical and computer sciences, and mechanical, industrial, aeronautical and electrical engineering. Clinical research in MENA is flourishing, in large part, due to extensive international collaborations and governmental support from the individual countries of the region. This is evidenced by the growing number of trials in the region, with a total of more than 14,910 trials performed up to October 2019, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.
Up to around 2010, MENA was seen as a location where Phase IV observational trials could safely be conducted. Since then the region is increasingly seen as attractive for the conduct of complex Phase II and Phase III trials as well.
Sponsors who look to MENA, when considering countries in which to perform their trials, are now greeted by:
- a strong research infrastructure,
- a feasible and systematic regulatory environment,
- Well-qualified and experienced Investigators,
- treatment-naïve patients exhibiting
- a wide range of disease indications, and
- a lower cost of conducting the research.
It is estimated that countries in North Africa are 30% less expensive than European countries and countries in the Middle East are 15 to 20% less expensive.
Local CROs are also at hand to serve the pharmaceutical industry and guide Sponsors through the clinical trial process, and it is thought that the development of a competitive CRO marketplace could lead the region to become even less expensive in the near future.
In this series of short articles, Europital would like to share with you some aspects of clinical research in the MENA region. It may provide some food for thought when considering which region would be most appropriate for your next clinical trial.
Notes and Further Reading
* Although there are varying definitions depending on the organization describing the region, for the purpose of this series of articles we have defined the countries the same as the majority of scientific studies reviewed here, i.e., as consisting of 22 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Siddiqi A, Stoppani J, Anadon LD, et al. (2016). Scientific Wealth in Middle East and North Africa: Productivity, Indigeneity, and Specialty in 1981-2013. PloS one, 11(11), e0164500.
Saxenian H, Sadr-Azodi N, Kaddar M, et al. (2019). Immunisation financing and programme performance in the Middle East and North Africa, 2010 to 2017. BMJ global health, 4(2), e001248.
Europital is an international CRO providing a full range of clinical research services. Since 2010, the Europital team has been working hand-in-hand with our clients on projects that span from First in Human studies to pivotal, international studies conducted across multiple continents.
In addition to its regional offices in Europe, Europital has built a global network of trusted partners over the last 10 years in the Middle East and North Africa, USA, Canada, Russia, India and Australia.
Europital’s readiness, reliability and flexibility all mean we are committed to the success of clinical projects worldwide.
Regardless of where your study sites may be, contact Dave to learn more about how we can help with all your clinical research needs.
David Bruce MBA PhD
Business Development Manager
T: +44 (0) 1743 367696
M: +44 (0) 7850 123151
E: [email protected]