The Colombia pharmaceuticals market is currently the fourth largest in Latin America, behind Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. It was valued at $2 billion in 2005 and it is projected to reach approximately $9.2 billion in 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.5% (Genovesi, 2011). Colombia has a highly fragmented pharmaceutical market, but it is developing slowly.
It has the third largest population in Latin America and the demand from the population has to be met by imports or local production. The growth of the pharmaceutical market can also be influenced by the economic recovery, as it will simultaneously increase the demand for drugs in the country. However, the approval of the recent Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the US and Colombia will bolster pharmaceutical imports and exports between the countries.
The medical device market of Colombia is mainly dependent on imports, and the Colombian imported medical products market amounted to $661.6m in 2009. The local medical industry mainly manufactures surgical instruments and apparatus, medical supplies of plastic and rubber, and medical, surgical, dental and veterinary furniture. The total imports of medical devices and equipment in 2009 amounted to $661.6m, while the total exports amounted to $294.5m. The total trade balance of Colombia in the medical device sector was $367.0m. Although medical and surgical device production in Colombia is not significant, the export potential is very high, amounting to $294.5m in 2009. The major export destinations were Venezuela and Ecuador (Ibarra, 2010).
The Colombian government created a single universal health coverage plan in 2012. The process of unification started in 2009 under the supervision of the national government and the Ministry of Social Protection and Health Regulatory Commission (Comisión de Regulación en Salud, CRES), providing healthcare facilities to both the contributive and subsidized regimes.
The co-ordination of healthcare in the country is carried out through CRES, the National Council of Social Security in Health (Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Social en Salud, CNSSS) and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social, MINSALUD) (International Dental Manufacturers, 2012).
Colombia initiated one of the most extensive reforms of a national healthcare system in Latin America during the 1990s, because of which the population coverage for the healthcare system rose to 78% in 2006 compared to 26.5% in 1994. In 2005, healthcare expenditure in Colombia amounted to 6.3% of the country's total GDP. It increased gradually, reaching 7.2% in 2007 and later declining to 6.9% due to the global crisis in 2008. In 2010, healthcare expenditure reached 7.6%. The healthcare market in Colombia is growing at a rapid pace because of the reforms being taken by the government (The World Bank, 2012q). The healthcare services and medicines provided by each public hospital are either subsidized or free of charge depending on the scheme they are in, (contributive or subsidized) (ISPOR, 2012).
Various policies are being undertaken by the government to curb the rise of various communicable and non-communicable diseases in Colombia. The government announced various initiatives in the Social CONPES 140, 2011 that are relevant to the millennium development goals undertaken by MINSALUD to improve the health of the Colombian population. The plan aims to reduce mortality in children less than five years of age, improve reproductive health and sexual health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and dengue fever (DNP, 2011).
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