Thermo Fisher moving into Dubai to test medical diagnostics market for healthy growth

The New York-listed biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific is investing US$5 million on a facility in the DuBiotech free zone as it bets on demand for its medical diagnostic equipment and services amid growth in the medical sector.

The company plans to tap large hospitals and testing laboratories for its food safety technology, pharmaceutical applications, and chemicals for genetic analysis and sequencing, among others. It could also provide hormone tests for horses and camels to eliminate doping in competitive races.

The rise of testing facilities in the UAE follows stricter health authority regulations for laboratories and awareness among the public, according to analysts.

“Several new independent clinical laboratories have emerged in the UAE in the last few years, and some of the major drivers for this includes increased medical insurance coverage, lack of a mature referral network, and increased utilisation of stand-alone clinics,” said Imad Bokhari, healthcare leader at transaction advisory services for the Middle East and North Africa region at the accountancy consultants EY.

Those services achieve greater significance given Dubai’s initiative to make health insurance mandatory for its residents by the middle of next year. In Abu Dhabi, mandatory health insurance came into effect in 2005.

“A number of private hospitals are being established here. There is a development of a lot of testing labs, for instance, to test blood for diabetes, besides there is a number of people coming from outside to Dubai to get these tests done,” said Syed Jafry, the senior vice president and president for Asia-Pacific and emerging markets at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Its DuBiotech facility, which will have a staff of 25 in three years’ time, is also expected to support its sales in the region.

The company also does not seem to be unduly worried about the strength of the dollar, which is affecting the sales of global companies.

Thermo Fisher expects a strong market for its products because “locally, we have limited competition”, Mr Jafry said.

Thermo Fisher, however, revised its revenue figures this week to reflect weaker demand for its products this year. The Massachusetts-based company now expects revenues between $16.67 billion and $16.83bn, down from $16.89bn last year.

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