Department of Health – Abu Dhabi signs deal with major companies to advance healthcare

During BIO 2024 International Convention in San Diego, California, the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH) signed a series of agreements with some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies — including Pfizer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Opus Genetics, MSD, Illumina, AstraZeneca, and Novartis. The deals were made as part of the efforts to strengthen Abu Dhabi's position as a global pharmaceutical and life sciences distribution hub, leveraging its strategic location, lucrative investment opportunities and advanced logistics capabilities. Let's take a look at what these agreements are all about.


Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global pharmaceutical company - Pfizer Gulf FZ LLC to advance research through the generation and analysis of real-world data (RWD) initially focusing on Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and expanding to other disease areas for the benefit of patients.

The two entities will work together to advance Abu Dhabi's RWD capabilities by promoting global knowledge exchange and education of scientific ideas. The agreement will focus on upskilling the local healthcare workforce on RWD by establishing a dynamic and sustainable partnership model promoting education and awareness on real-world evidence (RWE) generation, collection and analysis in order to address unmet patient needs.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals

DoH also signed a MoU with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company with a Japanese Heritage to establish a framework of collaboration to enhance research endeavors in rare diseases and oncology.

The partnership will boost clinical research, innovation and facilitate regional advisory boards with expert panels to further advance knowledge sharing, discuss challenges, and propose solutions that effectively address healthcare gaps. Thus, magnifying Abu Dhabi's efforts to provide innovative treatments and breakthrough solutions to patients in Abu Dhabi and the region.

Opus Genetics

Another MoU was signed with Opus Genetics, a patient-first, clinical-stage gene therapy company developing treatments for inherited retinal diseases. Through this collaboration, both entities will work together to accelerate the development of novel gene therapies for patients with rare inherited retinal diseases (IRD) in the UAE.

IRD are a major cause of vision loss worldwide, and affect approximately 5% of the Arabian Gulf population, severely impacting the lives of patients, their families, and communities. Leveraging the unique data access and capabilities of UAE's world-leading Emirati Genome Programme and Opus Genetics' expertise in clinical-stage gene therapy, the parties will explore the potential of conducting and expediting preclinical testing and clinical trials to benefit patients with IRD not only in Abu Dhabi but in the region.


In addition, the DoH signed a MoU with leading biopharmaceutical company MSD to advance cancer research, with a particular focus on lung cancer clinical trials in Abu Dhabi.

The two parties will seek to provide innovative cancer therapies to patients, leveraging the expertise and resources of both organizations to elevate the standards of clinical research in the Emirate, further solidifying Abu Dhabi's position as a pioneer in precision medicine.

MSD is set to conduct a study on a new investigational anti-cancer drug at two prominent healthcare institutions in the Emirate, Burjeel Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.


The MoU was also signed with Illumina, a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies. Together, the entities will jointly work to advance the application of precision medicine and clinical genomics research and to further develop the expert knowledge, infrastructure, and skilled workforce to support the embedding of genomics into clinical practice and translational research, locally and beyond.

Genomics has the potential to change the future health of humanity. From disease forecasting to diagnostics, drug discovery to personalised treatment, genomics cannot be overstated as a revolutionary force for global good. Leveraging Abu Dhabi's wealth of genomic data, DoH and Illumina seek to accelerate innovations in genomics and precision medicine with focus on emerging genomic applications. This includes genome and multi-omics advanced analysis and interpretation to promote the development of new breakthrough diagnostics for precision medicine, and benefit patients locally and globally.


Then there's the MoU with AstraZeneca, under which the pharmaceutical and biotechnology company will establish a world-class Rare Diseases Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Abu Dhabi.

Leveraging Abu Dhabi's advanced healthcare infrastructure and AstraZeneca's global expertise and experience in rare diseases management, the two entities will spearhead innovation to improve the lives of people and communities impacted by rare diseases, regionally and globally.

This collaboration will help to address this burden by allowing the two entities to work together to establish a Rare Disease Centre of Excellence in the Emirate, serving as a hub for comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, research education and patient care with a focus on haematology, neurology, and metabolic disorders.


Lastly, the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi signed a MoU with Novartis Middle East to advance solutions in multiple therapeutic areas. The two priority focus areas include advancing clinical genomics research for real-world evidence (RWE) and generating and disseminating evidence to support the understanding of radioligand therapy (RLT) for cancer patients.

This collaboration will utilise Abu Dhabi's genomics expertise and its future-forward, agile regulatory framework research hub to collaborate on future clinical research and the generation of RWE. This will include exploration of innovative solutions and genomics research in oncology, cardiovascular disease, and neuroscience. The two will also work together to generate and disseminate evidence to support the awareness and understanding of RLT - a form of precision nuclear medicine that may recognise and treat disease in patients with advanced cancers - with key stakeholders.

The context

Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH) is the regulatory body of the healthcare sector at the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and ensures excellence in healthcare by monitoring the health status of the population. DoH defines the strategy for the health system, monitors and analyzes the health status of the population and performance of the system.

In addition, DoH shapes the regulatory framework for the health system, inspects against regulations, enforces standards, and encourages the adoption of world-class best practices and performance targets by all healthcare service providers in the Emirate. DoH also drives programs to increase awareness and adoption of healthy living standards among the Emirate of Abu Dhabi residents, in addition to regulating the scope of services, premiums, and reimbursement rates of the health system.

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