Economy, Domestic Economy

Drug Exports at Record High

Drug Exports at Record High
Drug Exports at Record High

Iran’s pharmaceutical exports reached a record high in the Iranian calendar year 1393 (ended March 21), with $200 million worth of medicine exported to 30 countries, head of Iran’s Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Rasoul Dinarvand announced.

The official however deemed the current balance of trade as unsatisfactory, adding that the FDA aims to reach a positive trade balance within the next five years, the Young Journalist Club reported.

Efforts have been made by the government over the past year to find new markets for the domestically manufactured drugs. Iran signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iraq in February to increase cooperation in the area of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, hospital services and construction of hospitals in Iraq.

  Iraq’s $3b Market

According to FDA’s general director, Mahdi Pirsalehi, Iraq has a $3 billion pharmaceutical market, of which Iran plans to take a share of about 10-20 percent.

In an interview with Persian newspaper, Forsat-e Emrouz, Pirsalehi noted that many Iraqi people and officials prefer Iranian medicine and medical equipment to those imported from such countries as Turkey and Saudi Arabia as they feel betrayed by these countries [due to their alleged support for the IS extremist group].

Iran plans to increase pharmaceutical exports to Iraq to $500 million within the next 3 years, according to Pirsalehi.  Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Syria are other major target markets for Iranian drugs.

  Investment Opportunities  

Iran’s pharmaceutical industry, estimated to be worth 100 trillion rials ($3 billion at market exchange rate), provides a lucrative market for investors.

An article by Forsat-e Emrouz newspaper suggests that the domestically manufactured drugs account for about 55% of the pharmaceutical market, with imports accounting for the rest. This leaves the investors with a 45 trillion rials ($1.35 billion) potential market as the country plans to reduce imports.

Iran reduced pharmaceutical imports to $900 million in the past Iranian year from $1.3 billion in the preceding year, according to a report by Mehr news agency.

The huge gap between the level of imports and exports once again highlights the potential for investment in the sector.

Experts believe lack of powerful manufacturers in Iran’s neighboring countries provides an attractive regional market with a population of nearly 300 million.

Currently Iran has a surplus production of drugs such as antibiotics and pain relief medicines, which could be exported. Iranian companies also manufacture sophisticated drugs using biotechnology and nanotechnology. For example, Sobhan Oncology Pharmaceutical Company in Gilan Province has so far developed 7 nano-drugs, with 12 other being experimented. According to FDA’s announcement, Iran developed 12 anti-cancer drugs last year.

Overall, the pharmaceutical industry’s projections appear promising for domestic and foreign investors willing to enter the sector. Considering that the world market is worth one trillion dollars, Iran currently owns only a fraction of a percent of the global market, leaving huge potential for development.