Help! I Can’t Find a Distributor!

25th May, 2016

Category: Product Distribution and Registration

In the last in the series on why the pharmaceutical industry is lagging behind in the Middle East, we take a look at the importance of selecting the right distributor.

The supply chain in the Middle East is very complicated. Within the Middle East, foreign manufacturers are only able to sell their products through local distribution companies. To add to that, foreign manufacturers are restricted from setting up local wholesale or distribution companies. Therefore, selecting the right distributor for your products is vital in ensuring that the right channels and networks are optimised.

For foreign pharma companies looking to sell their products within the Middle East, what are the things to look out when selecting a distributor?

Support in registering a drug

Drug registration is now a part of the services distributors offer. This is particularly useful due to the drawn-out process of registering a drug, which can take between 18 and 24 months.

Having a local contact to liaise with the Ministry of Health is essential in providing additional documentation and to answer queries as needed. As such, long-standing and reputable distributors with good and well established relationships and market understanding would be best place to work with, given their likely ability to better respond to MoH queries.

Distributors with specialised services

Another key thing to note when selecting a distributor is to go with one with plenty of experience within the therapy area you are looking to target. Whether it is through the networks they have or in having the right equipment in transporting drugs, (e.g.: cold-chain management) distributors in the region are now providing these services meaning that the right distributor is out there for you.

If you have a retail and/or hospital product, a distributor that has the right networks across both sectors is one that would work best.

Selecting more than one distributor

You do not have to tie-up your entire portfolio with the same distributor. In some cases, a single distributor will be able to get the job done. However, if your portfolio is varied or if a distributor is unable to provide the necessary services for all your products, selecting more than one distributor means that you are getting the best service for all your products.

Use local expertise to get support in selecting the right distributor

The best way to ensure that you are getting the best distributor is to enlist the support of a local expert to look through your portfolio and provide recommendations on the best distributors to go with.

A local expert will have an understanding of the distributor market in the region and knowledge of the quality of services provided. It is definitely the best way to selecting the right distributor for your company.