Pharmaceutical Industry in Central America

A study of the regional competition in the wholesale supply chain and retail distribution of medicines in Central America.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The study aims at analyzing competition of the drug sector in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama from a regional perspective in order to strengthen coordination among these countries in promoting and protecting competition and universal access to safe medicines. The study attempts to contribute to the ongoing process of regional integration of the drug sector.

The report uses 4 widely known classifications in order to analyze relevant aspects of the pharmaceutical sector:

- Ethical Market / popular market (prescription drugs / prescription medicines or OTC). In Panama and Central America the ethical market represents 80% of sales.

- Institutional and private market. The largest institutional market belongs to Costa Rica with 39% and the smallest to Nicaragua with 12%. The study excludes the institutional market, but most available statistical information prevents disaggregation.

- Original products (innovative or research), branded generics, non-branded generic products. In Panama and Central America, branded generics represent 54% of sales and original represent 39%.

- Therapeutic Class (Anatomical, Therapeutic and Chemical Classification System - ATC). The level of disaggregation in international markets, prima facie establishes the relevant antitrust markets.

Original drugs and branded generics make up 90% of the market in Central America and Panama.

These products are mostly imported and are already classified and packaged for distribution and consumption, for which it is important to establish how the industry operates globally.

More on this topic

Pharmaceutical Companies Sanctioned in El Salvador

May 2019

American Drugstore and C. Imberton were sanctioned for proving "that they engaged in the anti-competitive practice of agreeing to fix the prices of Cataflam, Diovan and Lamisil products."

The Superintendence of Competition of El Salvador (SC) sanctioned American Drugstore, for $171,000, and C.

The Market for Generic Drugs in Costa Rica

February 2014

Between 2009 and 2013 generic drugs lost ground to original brands, reversing a trend seen in the last five years.  

The generics market in the country has a value of $159 million and represents 36% of the drug market.

Although their prices are lower than original brand name drugs, in recent years purchases by the public sector have been declining, while in the private sector they are growing but timidly.

High Price of Medicines in Costa Rica

December 2012

A study by the Universidad de Costa Rica notes that one company controls the distribution of 80% of drugs sold, with price differences of up to 1,000%.

An article in reports that there is "little or no competition in the private sector of medicine, product of an industry that is "highly concentrated", causing Costa Rica to have higher drug prices compared to other Central American countries."

Independent Pharmacies in Costa Rica

October 2011

Many pharmacies are trying to penetrate deeper into the market with low pricing policies so as to enable rapid expansion of their sales.

Among such are Pharmacy La Bomba, pharmacies Santa Lucia, Dr. Ahorro, Asís y Residencial del Norte.

Supply of medicines at such low prices is the result of the large sales volumes they can handle, said representatives of some of these establishments.

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