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Pharmaceutical Growth Opportunities in Brazil, Russia, India and China

THE AUTHOR : Revati Nehru From: Business Monitor


The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) present enormous opportunities for pharmaceutical marketers due to their positive economic growth, stabilizing political structure, growing patient populations and increasing direct foreign investments. Between them, the four BRIC countries account for 41.7% of the world’s population, recorded an average GDP growth of 7.3% as compared to global GDP growth of 5.1% in 2004 and 14.0% of global direct foreign investment in 2004. This pattern of demographics and economic development has led to an unprecedented demand for healthcare services and the pharmaceutical markets of the BRIC economies are poised for strong expansion as a result.

Although all of the countries profiled in this report have positive economic growth, large patient populations, land area and resources, there is a high level of economic, regulatory, and structural variance across all four countries, a factor that requires pharmaceutical marketers to tailor their approach to market entry.

This report provides a detailed analysis on each of the BRIC markets, identifying regulatory, financial and structural challenges that affect the development of and entry to branded pharmaceutical markets. This report proceeds to analyze, using IMS data, current and historical trends in market development, focusing on key therapeutic areas and contrasting the development of the branded and generics markets. Furthermore, this report then identifies and profiles the key domestic and foreign players in each of the BRIC markets, analyzing competitive strategies for success in these high potential economies.


In 2005, the value of pharmaceutical sales across the BRIC markets was reported to be $22,507m, representing an increase of 22.3% over the previous year’s sales of $18,401m. Sales of pharmaceuticals in the BRIC markets remains modest, representing just 4.2% of global pharmaceutical sales, valued at $534,851m in 2005, but growth is buoyant relative to developed pharmaceutical markets, which in 2005 was recorded at just 4.8% on average in the 5 major EU markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) and 5.2% in the US during 2005 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Comparison of pharmaceutical sales in the markets of BRIC, EU5, US and Japan, 2005

Source: IMS

The high rate of growth in pharmaceutical spending across the BRIC markets is forecast to propel these markets to increasing levels of importance for the pharmaceutical industry. Based on 5 year CAGRs (compound annual growth rates) over 2001-05 and should growth continue at the same rate, the Chinese market will grow to the size of Spain’s current pharmaceutical market by 2009, with Brazil’s market reaching a similar forecast level of development by 2012, India’s by 2018 and Russia’s by 2011.

Despite the rapid continued growth forecast for the pharmaceutical markets of the BRIC economies, there remains a considerable range of challenges to market development, with each of the countries profiled in this report featuring patterns of pharmaceutical purchasing that differ widely from their counterparts in developed countries and from each other. In particular, diversities across healthcare systems in terms of financing, structural development, delivery and equality of care, create higher risk environments for pharmaceutical marketers, placing increasing importance on the product selection. Furthermore, widespread differences in regulation, including pricing, reimbursement and treatment priorities provide for varied operating environments, posing new challenges for pharmaceutical companies.

Healthcare systems and structures across the BRIC markets

Healthcare financing

In 2004, the combined GDP of the BRIC markets was valued at $12,351,880m (converted at purchasing-power parities (PPP) representing an increase of 11.3% over the previous year’s GDP reported at $11,101,837m. Given this, the average percentage of GDP allotted towards healthcare in 2004 was reported to be 5.8% or $716,409m for the same year. In comparison, the US allotted 15.3% of its GDP or $1,792,285m and the 5 major EU markets 9.2% of their GDP that amounted to $795,343m towards healthcare expenditure for the same year.

Figure 2: Average total health expenditure as a proportion of GDP for BRIC, EU5 and the US, 2000-04

Source: WHO

Considering the combined populations of the BRIC countries comprise of 41.7% of the world’s total population, the average GDP spend on healthcare in the BRIC markets is extremely low when compared to the populations of the US and 5 major countries of the EU and the percentage of GDP allotted towards their healthcare. Furthermore, the average expenditure on healthcare as a proportion of GDP among the four BRIC countries has declined by 2.3% since 2003, attributed mainly to a lack of a proportional increase in Russia and India, both of which experienced a reduction of 0.3% in healthcare spends as a proportion of GDP in 2004. The variances in healthcare expenditure across the four markets have been illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Healthcare expenditures across the four BRIC countries, 2004

Source: WHO

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