Imported medicines are dominating the domestic market, accounting for 60 percent of the total consumption, according to the Ministry of Health.

Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs showed that pharmaceutical imports amounted to 1.45 billion USD from January-August, 120 million USD higher than the same period last year.

Most of them are from France (170 million USD) - the biggest drug exporter during the period, followed by the US (139 million USD), India (138 million USD), Germany (108 million USD), the Republic of Korea (RoK) (93 million USD), the UK (81 million USD) and Italy (74 million USD).

Vietnam’s total drug consumption last year topped 2.92 billion USD, more than 2 billion of which was imports from 30 markets worldwide, up 8.3 percent annually, while the remaining was domestically produced, reported the ministry’s Drug Administration of Vietnam.

India topped the exporter list, shipping 267 million USD worth of products to Vietnam in 2014, making up 13.1 percent of the country’s total imports. Following was France (239.4 million USD), Germany (189 million USD) and the RoK (161.5 million USD).

Pharmaceuticals and their input materials are among Vietnam’s major imports from India with a value of 1.07 billion USD from 2010-2014, ranking the South Asian nation second among exporters.

Roja Rani, Assistant Regional Director of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India, who is also in charge of the Asian market, attributed Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market growth to its stable population, increasing awareness of health among the middle class and improved access to medicines, projecting that opportunities for Indian drug manufacturers are ample.

Annual spending per capita on drugs in Vietnam stands at a mere 30 USD per year, compared to 96 USD in developing countries and 186 USD globally. Vietnam currently ranks 13th among 175 countries and territories seeing hikes in drug spending.

Additionally, Vietnamese still favour imported products, evidenced by the fact that only 20-30 percent of domestically-manufactured drugs are prescribed.

In 2014 alone, up to 656 kinds of drugs registered price hikes, 84 of which were made abroad.

According to the ministry, drug manufacturers are headquartered mostly in the southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City (50 percent), Hanoi (30 percent) and the provinces of An Giang, Can Tho, Nam Dinh and Phu Yen (20 percent).

Leading the domestic drug market are now Sanofi Vietnam, Hau Giang Pharmaceuticals and Traphaco.

Looking forward, imported pharmaceuticals are predicted to overwhelm those made locally, especially chloroform, detox and anti-cancer pills.-VNA