Explosive growth in medicine trade

24/11/2005 14:00

International trade in medicines is growing explosively. The export value of medicines rose by nearly 300 percent in the period 1996-2204, the import value by nearly 250 percent; both rose to over 6 billion euro in 2004.

International trade in medicines

International trade in medicines

International trade

Turnover has risen faster in the Dutch pharmaceutical sector than in other sectors of industry, partly because of the increased demand for medicines. In the period 1996-2004, total manufacturing turnover in the Netherlands rose by 30 percent. Turnover in the pharmaceutical industry rose by 80 percent, and accounted for 15 percent of turnover in the chemical industry in 2004.

Import and export value of medicines, 2004

Import and export value of medicines, 2004

Exports mainly within Europe

The lion’s share of medicine trade to and from the Netherlands remains within Europe. In 2004, 60 percent of imports came from Europe and nearly 75 percent of exports and re-exports went to countries in Europe. A large part of European medicine imports came from the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium: together they accounted for 65 percent of Dutch imports. The main destinations of Dutch pharmaceutical exports were France and Germany, accounting for 13 and 11 percent respectively.

Value of goods imports from US and share of pharmaceuticals in total goods imported from US

Value of goods imports from US and share of pharmaceuticals in total goods imported from US

Turbulent growth in imports from America

Outside Europe, the US was the largest supplier of medicines to the Netherlands: 1.7 billion euro worth of medicines arrived from the US in 2004. The share of US pharmaceuticals in Dutch medicine imports rose to nearly 30 percent in 2004. Part of these imports are re-exported to other European countries. 
In 1996 the US were still only eighth on the list of international suppliers, exporting 100 million euro worth of drugs to the Netherlands.
The share of medicines in total goods imports from the US rose from only 1 percent in 1996 to more than 9 percent in 2004.

Marjolijn Jaarsma and Roos Schellings