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Pharmaceutical industry in Brazil - Statistics & Facts

With the inevitable emergence of new diseases worldwide, such as COVID-19, research, development, and production of new drugs are essential for maintaining and improving basic public health conditions, a goal that is considered a development priority. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry has always been and will possibly remain one of the  most important businesses in the world, reaching a revenue of more than 1.26 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020. In Latin America, Brazil is the only country that ranks amongst the top pharmaceutical markets worldwide, with a global market share of approximately 1.8 percent, and a market value of nearly 21 billion U.S. dollars.

The Brazilian pharmaceutical business

Drug production, as part of the manufacturing industry, is very important for Brazil’s economy in terms of value added and employment generated. The pharmaceutical industry in Brazil reached a production value of more than 46 billion Brazilian reals in 2019, with medications accounting for 96 percent of the total value. That year, the Brazilian pharmaceutical market employed over one million people in the wholesale and retail segments, with the retail sector making up the highest share of the working force within this sector.

An industry run mostly by national companies

In regard to leading pharmaceutical companies, the Swiss corporations Roche and Novartis stand out. Together they accounted for more than 94 billion U.S. dollars in prescription sales in 2020. However, in the Brazilian market,  domestic companies lead the business and rank highly on the list of producers. For example, Aché Laboratorios Farmacéuticos S.A., a prominent 100-percent Brazilian-owned pharmaceutical corporation, reached a revenue of approximately 3.5 billion Brazilian reals in 2020, an increase of over one billion reals compared to 2015, when revenue of 2.33 million reals was reported.

Research and development

More than in any other industry, the pharmaceutical sector is highly dependent on scientific research and development. Clinical trials, in particular, are a crucial step in the process of new drugs becoming available on the market. From 2015 to 2019, Brazil accounted for around two percent of the total number of participants in clinical trials worldwide, against rates such as 35 percent in the U.S., or four percent in countries like Germany, Poland, and Russia. However, on a regional level, Brazil is the Latin American country where the most clinical trials have been performed, with nearly eight thousand studies recorded as of February 2021

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