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  • The World's Pharma Trade: Which Countries Buy & Sell the Most Drugs?

The World's Pharma Trade: Which Countries Buy & Sell the Most Drugs?

The pharmaceutical industry is incredibly valuable and is continuing to grow. But just how much of the world’s imports and exports involve pharmaceuticals? To understand the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on the world’s economy, we created two visualizations to demonstrate pharmaceutical imports and exports by country in 2018.

pharmaceutical trade around the world

  • The United States is, by far, the world’s biggest importer of pharmaceuticals at $99.7 billion.
  • As the opioid crisis in the United States carries on, pharmaceutical companies are being scrutinized, as was demonstrated in the Johnson and Johnson settlement.
  • Despite scrutiny, the pharmaceutical industry is continuing to grow at a rapid rate.
  • Pharmaceutical companies are being forced to pay hefty fines for their role in the opioid epidemic.

pharmaceutical trade around the world

To create our visualizations, we pulled data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) on pharmaceutical imports and exports throughout the world in 2018. Using this data, we constructed two visualizations to portray the world’s largest exporters and importers of pharmaceuticals around the world. Each country’s pharmaceutical trade is represented by a pill. The larger the pill, the higher the value of exports or imports.

World’s Largest Pharmaceutical Exporters

1. Germany: $84.7 billion
2. Switzerland: $71.7 billion
3. United States: $49.7 billion
4. Belgium: $45.7 billion
5. Ireland: $40 billion

World’s Largest Pharmaceutical Importers

1. United States: $99.7 billion
2. Germany: $53.7 billion
3. Belgium: $36.7 billion
4. United Kingdom: $33.8 billion
5. Switzerland: $29.3 billion

The pharmaceutical industry accounts for tens of billions of dollars in international trade each year, much of which comes from Europe and the United States.

As the opioid crisis in the United States continues to rage on, it might not come as a surprise to see that the United States leads the world in pharmaceutical imports. While local and state governments are trying to hold Big Pharma responsible for its role in the opioid crisis, pharmaceutical companies aren’t concerned about U.S. drug regulations. Big Pharma is a massive industry and has plans to grow even more by targeting growing opioid markets in countries like India.

Though many people around the world are concerned about the growing demand for pharmaceuticals, this demand is fueling the growth of these massive pharmaceutical companies. As such, the industry is likely to continue playing a major role in the global economy in the coming years.

We all know the pharmaceutical industry has a major impact on the global economy. By analyzing our visualizations, we can get an even better understanding of how Big Pharma affects countries around the world.

Do you think we need more regulations on pharmaceutical companies? Why do you think pharmaceutical trade is dominated by the U.S. and Europe? Let us know in the comments.

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