The Italian pharmaceutical industry is extremely export-oriented. The dependency of the sector on foreign markets has increased in the last years. The proof lies in figures reported by international trade institutions: the export value of Italian pharmaceuticals grew nearly twofold since 2010 and reached approximately 27 billion euros in 2018. The main destination of these products were the United States, accounting for one fifth of the total export value of Italian pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, Italy is also very dependent on pharmaceutical imports, which, overall, exceed the value of exports, resulting in a negative trade balance for the Mediterranean country.
Research and development are paramount in the pharmaceutical sector. This is very clear to companies active in field. In fact, according to the results of a recent survey, nearly all pharmaceutical companies in Italy invest in research and development to some extent. As a result, the sector invested a total of 1.65 billion euros in R&D in 2018, while 1.35 billion euros were invested in production.
Among the leading pharmaceutical producers in Italy, Menarini is by far the leading player. In 2018, the company registered a turnover of 3.7 billion euros, more than twice as high as the turnover registered by Chiesi, one of its direct competitors. After starting the internationalization journey in the 1960s, Menarini consolidated its presence abroad in the 1990s. The effort to internationalize the company paid off: in 2018, 75 percent of Menarini's turnover originated from outside of Italy.