Mexico Takes Ninth Place Among World's Largest Drug Markets

May 24, 2005

According to new studies by IMS Health, Mexico is currently the world's ninth largest drug market, although the fast-growing Chinese market is expected to occupy this position by the end of 2005. However, other surveys claim that Mexico's drug market is set to grow by up to 13% per year by the end of the decade, with retail drug sales expected to exceed the US$10bn mark this year.

The growing attractiveness of Mexico to multinational firms is linked to the size of its drug market, its export potential and the country's changing disease patterns. The US Commercial Service estimates that the country has roughly 35 facilities producing both active pharmaceutical ingredients and finished products, serving a market in which retirees represent a third of all consumers. Conditions such as obesity and high cholesterol are becoming increasingly common, even among children, as unprecedented dietary changes take hold.

Nevertheless, surveys highlight the predominance of basic drugs in Mexico, especially anti-infectives and topical skin treatments, which respectively had annual sales of US$757mn and US$258mn in 2004. This further illustrates both the market's emerging status and the significant gap needing to be closed before the country can achieve the coveted status of a Western-style developed drug market.

However, Mexico's low value as a drug market in comparison to leading peers has not discouraged the growth of the export sector. The country's appeal as an export base has been boosted by the tightest intellectual property law in Latin America, as well as significant changes to the IMSS healthcare system in 1997, which allowed for private sector participation. State export finance bank Bancomext is due to help finance 69 local pharmaceuticals exporters this year alone.