Argentine Drug Exports Rise Sharply in 2004

March 17, 2005

According to the national statistics office INDEC, Argentina's pharmaceutical exports increased by 29.4% to US$345mn in 2004. However, imports in the year increased by 14.7% to US$545mn. The data indicate that, despite difficult economic conditions and reduced purchasing power, the country's traditional preference for branded imports continues, although the local manufacturing sector continues to be favoured by Argentina's new, relatively low-cost environment.

The economic collapse and ensuing devaluation of the currency in 2002 has had mixed effects for the local industry. Argentina's manufacturing sector employs around 16,000 people and currently accounts for two-thirds of domestic production. The country has a number of well-established firms such as Laboratorios Bagó, which operates 10 production plants throughout Latin America.

The country's exports are now very competitively priced, although the value of such products remains far below that of pre-crisis levels, and is not expected to recover to its former levels in the medium term.

Meanwhile, a healthcare system focused on ageing segments of the population, as well as a severe reduction in the general level of prosperity in recent years, will also continue to drive demand for generics. However, despite government efforts, the slowness of the population to accept generics is likely to remain a significant burden on the country's healthcare resources.