BRAZILIAN DRUG OUTPUT WEATHERS INDUSTRIAL SLOWDOWN

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New data suggests that Brazil's drug production continues to surge, despite a 2% monthly slowdown in the country's overall industrial output. Overall output in September cooled as the country's manufacturing sector neared full capacity, but the figures illustrate that consumer demand for pharmaceuticals remains robust.

The results, published by national statistics agency IBGE, also indicate the growing concentration of Brazil's drug manufacturing in the São Paulo industrial belt. The city's drug output was 11.3% higher year-on-year in September, but production in Rio de Janeiro was 8% lower on the same comparison.

In recent years, Brazil's pharmaceuticals market has recovered strongly, driven by strengthening consumer demand. Sales totalled almost 1.4bn units in 2004. Nevertheless, this performance remains overshadowed by the economic troubles of the late 1990s. Local industry association Febrafarma reports that the industry's overall net profit fell by a third and net debt soared by 44% between 1998 and 2003, as the economy was liberalised and experienced a series of painful external shocks.