October 14, 2005

Latvia's drug wholesalers have reported turnover of US$187mn for the first half of the year, driven by soaring medicine consumption and relatively high wholesaler/pharmacy mark-ups, which average 13%. Total pharmaceutical sales in the period increased by 12%.

Drug spending has been increasing in Latvia in recent years due to the modernisation of the health care sector, which has included a broader reimbursement system. Prices and health awareness are also rising.

Meanwhile, a new pharmacy law is being drafted, and should come into force in December 2006. The law will aim to improve access to drugs, regulate pharmacies more closely and restrict the opening of new pharmacies in large cities. The protectionist measure could shut out major European retail chains.

Latvia's local drug manufacturing sector is relatively small, with around 90% of the drugs in the country imported, mainly from Western Europe. Meanwhile, the vast majority of drugs produced in Latvia are exported, largely to Russian and former Soviet states. As the country's health sector develops, the market is expected to reduce its reliance on imports.