The drug production market, as part of the manufacturing industry, is very important for Brazil’s economy in terms of value added and employment generation. With a production value of more than 40 billion Brazilian reals in 2017, the Brazilian pharmaceutical market employed nearly 990 thousand people in the wholesale and retail segments, divided among more than 128 thousand companies. In addition, expenditures on salaries and remunerations reached approximately 25 billion Brazilian reals in both segments combined.
In regard to leading pharmaceutical producers, the U.S. company Pfizer or the Swiss corporation Novartis stand out, as they account together for more than 100 billion dollars of the global industry revenue in 2018. 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 more than four billion Brazilian reals in 2018, with sales reaching more than 200 million units of pharmaceutical products that year. Prescription drugs made up more than 75 percent of the company’s sales, reaching a value of over three billion Brazilian reals.
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. In 2017, Brazil accounted for around two percent of the total clinical trials worldwide, against rates such as nearly 35 percent in the U.S., or more than 23 percent in China. However, on a regional level, Brazil is the Latin American country where most clinical trials were performed, as well as being the country with the second largest number of trial participants, after Argentina.