Export of medicines worth 959 million euros to Portugal

Export of medicines worth 959 million euros to Portugal -  - 


There was a slight decrease in 2017 compared to the previous year, but it was the second best value since 2010. The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom are the main buyers.

Last year Portugal sold drugs worth 959 million euros. A slight decrease from the previous year, but still the second best value since 2010 (444 million euros). Without major fluctuations in recent years in the top ten of the major buying countries, the list is led by the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The exported products are varied, between active substances, generic and branded drugs. There are drugs for diseases of the central nervous system, cardiac system, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, to high levels of concentration of potassium in the blood, antibiotics, vaccines, among others.

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics, sent to the PUBLIC, since 2010 the route has always gone up and the sale of this type of products reached its best value in 2016, when exports were worth 1020 million euros. In that year, the United States represented close to 25% of the value of exports, followed by Germany (15.2%) and the United Kingdom (12.2%).

The provisional data for 2017 - year in which we sold to more than 140 countries - show a slight decrease of 6% compared to 2016. The top three of the buying countries remained unchanged, but the weight of the North American market decreased. This trend continued in the first seven months of this year, with exports to the US totaling around 55 million euros - 57.5% less than in the same period last year.

Preliminary data for the first months of this year show a decline in total exports compared to the same period last year: from 617 million euros to 493 million euros. In addition to the United States, sales to the Angolan market also contracted significantly (down 22.8%).


Produce more:

For the Portuguese Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Apifarma), this "slight fluctuation" in sales last year and apparent continuity this year "does not allow a tendency to reduce the value of exports". "In any case, the situation observed in countries like Angola, Brazil and Venezuela can justify some of the disturbance registered," admits the association.

Paulo Lilaia, president of the Portuguese Association of Generic and Biosimilars (Apogen), also does not point out concrete reasons, but stresses that "it is necessary to evaluate the exports of medicines produced in Portugal and those that are exported but are not produced in the country." "My perception is that the quantity and value of medicines produced here and exported continues to increase, which may have diminished are the medicines imported and then exported in which Portugal serves as a platform. What brings value and employment is what is produced in Portugal, "he says, noting that there are several companies that are producing more.

Joaquim Cunha, Executive Director of Health Cluster Portugal - a platform that has several health sector companies and academic institutions - reports that sales behavior was not the same during the seven months, with signs of recovery in the second quarter. Therefore, he believes that this year may close in line with 2017.

Import values have not fluctuated significantly in recent years. In 2017 Portugal imported medicines worth 1879 million euros. Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom were the countries we bought the most.


Work of "ant":

Medicines are the largest share of exports, but not the only one. Medical devices and consumable supplies, such as gowns, surgical fields, or compresses, also have important expression. "Exports will reach 300 million euros. It has always grown, in 2010 it was 150 million, "says Joaquim Cunha, who states that in all, in 2017, health will have meant a fit close to 1.4 billion euros and a weight around 3% of the total exports of goods.

Getting here, he adds, was a long work. "First of all. Ants work, persistence and resilience and the results are taking effect. Secondly, it became possible to pass on the health message as a strong driver of economic and social development and give visibility to the sector. "

Paulo Lilaia talks about AICEP support "so that international companies can make their investment" and support for national companies to enter the foreign market. Apifarma highlights the participation, for the first time, of Portuguese companies in the event CPhl North America 2018, which took place in April. In October they will be present in the European version that takes place in Spain.

"This work reinforces the commitment of Portuguese companies to internationalization projects, with investment in R & D and technological competence in Portugal," adds Apifarma, who recalls that "the Portuguese pharmaceutical industry has faced several legislative challenges and economic challenges that have led to increased challenges and a strategic reorientation for international markets. "


Capturing foreign interest:

The innovation has been the bet of BIAL, a Portuguese company that last year registered a turnover of 272 million euros. Regarding the launch of its Parkinson's disease drug in Portugal - it was already on sale in Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain - the pharmacist recalled that international markets have a weight of 70% in billing, when in 2010 it was 30% . The epilepsy drug they launched in 2009 is marketed in 44 countries.

In June of this year, OM Pharma, of the Vifor Pharma Group, inaugurated its new plant in Portugal, an investment of 10 million euros. Located in Alfragide, the facility will produce a drug to treat elevated levels of blood potassium that will be exported to countries around the world, including the United States. By 2000 the company had already relocated part of the production to Lisbon.

Within three years, Generis will have a factory in Rio Maior. An investment of 15 million euros, with the direct creation of 100 jobs. But also indirectly with the creation of a laboratory analysis course by the Professional School of Rio Maior. It is a unit for the reception and packaging of bulk drugs produced in Venda Nova (Amadora) and in India. The annual production of 100 million packages is planned, which means an increase in exports. Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde, Iran, Lebanon and Libya are among the buyers.



Challenges of the future:

The three associations are unanimous in saying that Portugal has the potential to continue to grow in this area. The president of Apogen emphasizes the fact that we are seen as a "country with political stability, the prestige that the Portuguese industry has already achieved, with a high level of qualification in this area, a positive relation of the quality-cost of human resources".

"It is essential to promote the importance of the social and economic value of health and its impact across society, given its capacity to generate employment, exports and investment in innovation," says Apifarma, who says there is work to be done. with a view to internationalization. "We must reinforce concrete measures such as the reduction of context costs, support to promote competitiveness and encourage the penetration of companies that produce in Portugal in new markets, while investing in the creation of credit lines to consolidate markets or overcome short-term challenges . "

Joaquim Cunha says that Portugal "should aim to double exports", but recognizes the challenges: "We have a national fabric capable of growing, but if we want to make the leap we have to be able to attract foreign investment. Fiscal stability and lowering red tape are very important. "


Source: "Público" Journal website and author on September 17, 2018