ECONOMY

Imported drugs gain

Imported pharmaceuticals continue to rapidly gain ground vis-a-vis domestically produced ones, already accounting for the greater part of supplies, a recent study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) shows. In 2002, sales of imported medicines were up 34 percent to 2.5 billion euros (12 percent in terms of volume), representing 68 percent of the total. In the same year, sales of domestic pharmaceuticals rose only 6.5 percent, with the volume unchanged. Sales by pharmaceutical companies to hospitals and pharmacies reached 3.76 billion euros. The Marinopoulos Group’s FAMAR (which produces medicines for commercial operators) captured the lion’s share of domestic production, producing 110 million items of which 7.2 million were exported. Vianex produced 55.5 million items (9.1 million exported), Lavipharm 33.8 million items (6.1 million exported), P.N. Gerolymatos 11.7 million (1.2 million exported) and Galenica 9.4 million. Multinational firm Boehringer-Ingelheim produced 23.7 million items, of which 5.8 million were exported. According to IOBE, the Greek pharmaceuticals sector employed 4,756 people in 69 firms. Its total gross production value represented 2.4 percent of manufacturing and 26.6 percent in the chemical industry itself. About 3,454 pharmaceutical products are available in pharmacies, in varying packaging, forms and content. Among particular categories, products for the cardiovascular system top sales, representing 20 percent of total value and 18 percent of volume. Sales of anti-infection drugs represented 12 percent of the total value and 10 percent of volume. Medicines for the digestive tract and metabolism accounted for 11 percent of total sales in value and 14 percent of total volume. The figures are more or less in line with world averages. Sales of anti-ulcer, anti-cholesterol and anti-depressant drugs in 2002 reached 60.7 billion worldwide, accounting for 15 percent of the total. Anti-psychotic drugs recorded a 19 percent jump in sales, the largest among all categories. According to the IOBE study, 68.5 percent of sales through pharmacies are controlled by 15 companies, most of which are multinationals. GlaxoSmithKline is in first place with 8.5 percent, followed by Novartis with 7.7 percent and Vianex with 6.7 percent. It is worth noting that in all categories of drugs, the three top sellers combined account for more than 30 percent of sales. Indeed, the three top sellers of drugs for the respiratory system, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Boehringer-Ingelheim, account for 57 percent of the market.