Saudi Arabia-based biopharmaceutical companies Lifera and Arabio and French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the manufacturing of vaccines in Saudi Arabia.

The three entities will explore opportunities for collaboration to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s vaccine localisation strategy.

Proposed initiatives include Lifera serving as a contract manufacturer to Sanofi through manufacturing facilities and capabilities, and drawing on the strengths of Arabio and Tamer Group’s local and regional distribution networks in vaccines and other important pharma products.

Tamer is the majority shareholder of Arabio and an integrated healthcare and wellness group both in Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Sanofi will share its biotechnological expertise and its capabilities to manufacture seven vaccines within the mandatory immunisation programme. This will make the vaccines more accessible to the local community and the regional export market.

Ten million people are vaccinated each year with Sanofi’s vaccines in the Gulf region. In 2022, the company distributed six million doses of its quadrivalent influenza vaccine in the region.  

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Globally, Sanofi aims to bring ten new vaccine candidates into clinical trials by 2025 through research and development.

Lifera Board chairman Dr Ibrahim Aljufalli stated: “By collaborating with Sanofi, an innovative global healthcare leader, Lifera is facilitating the transfer of world-class technology and expertise to Saudi Arabia and most importantly, bringing the highest-quality vaccines to Saudi citizens, enhancing national resilience and self-sufficiency.”

Sanofi Greater Gulf vaccines general manager Fokion Sinis stated: “As one of the leading global vaccines manufacturers and as a strategic partner to Saudi Arabia and an enabler of Vision 2030, Sanofi is committed to increasing vaccine accessibility and supporting Saudi Arabia’s goal of reducing its reliance on pharmaceutical imports.”

Arabio chairman and Tamer Group vice-chairman Faisal Tamer stated: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Lifera, joining hands in pharmaceutical localisation efforts.”

The development follows Sanofi’s launch of an inactive hepatitis A vaccine, AVAXIM Junior, for children aged 12 months to 15 years in the UK in April 2023.

In June 2023, Lifera and Centogene announced their collaboration in a genetic testing service in Saudi Arabia.