Halal Pharmaceuticals: A New Frontier

Feb '18

Muslims now are increasingly more aware of what goes into their bodies, paving the way for growth of the Halal pharmaceutical industry. In 2016, the sector was valued at USD 83 billion, a six percent growth compared to the previous year. It is expected to grow eight percent year-on-year to reach USD 132 billion by 2022.

Pharmaceutical companies like Pharmaniaga and AJ Pharma are spearheading innovation in the Halal pharmaceutical centre, investing substantial amounts into the development of Halal vaccines. The world’s first Halal vaccine manufacturing centre is also planned to be built in Malaysia within the next three years, where the vaccines will be produced and exported around the world.

According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2017/18, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the best developed Islamic economy for Halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, followed by Singapore and Malaysia. This is based on four criteria – trade, governance, awareness and social.

In the last two years, the Halal pharmaceutical industry saw several key developments. Among these was the world’s first Halal license for prescription medicine given out by Malaysia’s religious authority, JAKIM, to Chemical Company of Malaysia (CCM) last year. Meanwhile, Indonesia is gearing up for mandatory Halal products this year, and UAE’s ESMA will require all Halal imports to be certified.

Within the Halal pharmaceutical sector, Halal nutraceuticals has been identified as a major growth segment that can experience rapid growth if supported by patient, strategic investment. With robust marketing and investment from financial and corporate entities alike, this opportunity can be realised.

Developing new products based on robust primary research is critical for Halal pharmaceuticals to develop a viable business model, as well as the ability to market the products to a broader range of consumers. Growth capital will also be critical to investing in research and development, expanding manufacturing capabilities and broadening focus in new markets. This is where multinational companies can play a significant role by providing Halal products as well as an important stepping stone as an investor.

However, as with any other innovation in any industry, it is not without its challenges. Experts have identified the main challenge being the limited focus on Halal as a proposition. If challenges aren’t addressed, the sector will remain a niche, limiting its growth.

There is a also a critical, life-saving role for Halal Pharmaceuticals, with the growing phenomenon of people, especially children, not being inoculated against diseases over concerns about ingredients in vaccines, including porcine gelatin and non-Halal ingredients. Although this challenge has not been addressed by the conventional sector, AJ Pharma is working on the world’s first non-animal origin vaccines.

Companies involved in the Halal pharmaceutical industry can capitalise on the latent potential of this sector while addressing the challenges in order to boost not only their businesses but also to take the industry to new heights, tapping into the growth of the sector. The industry has taken huge leaps forward as of late, but if more companies get involved, it could go even further, opening up whole new possibilities.