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April 18, 2016
The healthcare environment in Latin America is rapidly changing with an increased amount of investment and access to the region spurring the growth of the region’s pharmaceutical market. As the pharma market in Latin America continues to develop, there are a number of unique opportunities and challenges that differ from country to country. One particular country that is attracting the attention of investors is Colombia which has become one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and is one of the largest national pharmaceutical markets in the region.
With the imminent arrival of 2016, Colombia’s pharmaceutical market is expected to continue growing as it has done since 2013 at an annual rate of 7.3%. Multinational companies searching for emerging growth opportunities are beginning to turn their attention to Colombia which is experiencing something of a renaissance. Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, has expanded access to pharmaceuticals and while health insurance coverage has grown to 95% of the population, the Colombian President is aiming for universal coverage by 2016. The economic and political stability of Colombia also offers an attractive environment for investors with its geographical location between Central and South America offering multinational pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to easily enter the region. Colombia also has lower production costs than most of its South American neighbours and furthermore, there is an environment of equal opportunities for both local and international firms operating in the country.
In 2012, Medellin was named as the most ‘Innovative City of the Year’ by the Wall Street Journal and Citi Global. This marked the beginning of Colombia’s increased interest in attracting new research and development opportunities within its borders. National and multinational companies work side by side in producing pharmaceutical products, medical devices and equipment and are using Colombia as the main access point to other key markets in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Although the country relies heavily on imported drugs, Colombia boasts a strong generic medication market and a growing market for manufacturing medical devices. Having some of Latin America’s most well-equipped hospital facilities, access to the latest medical technology and well-trained professional medical personnel, Colombia is becoming an increasingly bigger player in the clinical research market.
In order for institutions to perform clinical research, they have to undergo a certification process which is overseen by a well-organised body that works together with the Ministry of Health. Between 1995 and 2013, of the 738 clinical trials that took place in Colombia, 90% were sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry and pushed Colombia up to sixth place in clinical trials performed within Latin America. Moreover, due to the culture of the region and less competition for patients for research projects, Colombia has a very high retention rate and recruitment for clinical trials. With just 1% of all worldwide clinical trials currently being conducted in Latin America, there is plenty of scope for the development of Colombia’s clinical research market.
Historically speaking Colombia has been playing catch up with both the international and regional pharmaceutical markets. However, its development of new medical systems and investment in its pharmaceutical market have pushed the country to become one of the most important players in Latin America and one of the most exciting opportunities for multinational pharmaceutical companies. Colombia’s high medical standards, growing middle class and its economic and political stability, set the foundations for continued investment from multinational pharmaceutical companies looking to get their share of this dynamic market that is only at the start of its full growth potential.
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