This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Lebanon imports approximately 80 percent of its pharmaceutical products, according to the Ministry of Public Health, spending more than $1 billion annually. Patented drugs constitute around 50 percent of the market, and over the counter (OTC) and generic drugs constitute around 25 percent each. According to Lebanese Customs, total pharmaceutical imports into Lebanon reached $900 million in 2021, of which $106 million were from the United States. Local production is mainly focused on manufacturing drugs under license for international companies. Lebanon’s main sources of pharmaceutical imports are Germany (15 percent), the United States (11.7 percent), Switzerland (10 percent), France (9 percent), Italy (7.3 percent) and Ireland (4.7 percent). Local pharmaceutical companies are trying to increase domestic production of medication to substitute for imports as a result of Lebanon’s dwindling foreign currency reserves and economic crisis.
A large portion of Lebanon’s population receives healthcare from the Ministry of Public Health, which purchases pharmaceutical from local importers, offers them to patients, and reimburses hospital bills.
Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis has resulted in a shortage of critical medication. The Central Bank of Lebanon, since October 2019, has been subsidizing (by making hard currency from its foreign reserves available) imports of pharmaceuticals to Lebanon. However, the Central Bank has reduced the amount available for these subsidies, resulting in massive shortages as well as higher prices for the medication that is available. High production costs, a weak regulatory framework, and counterfeit drugs are additional challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry in Lebanon. Still, Lebanon is expected to remain dependent on imports of pharmaceutical products, and U.S. companies present in the market have imposed stricter controls on medicine distribution to preserve their market share.
Table 4: Pharmaceuticals Chart
|2020||2021||2022 (Estimate)||2023 (Projection)|
|Total Local Production||$59 million||$59 million||$59 million||$59 million|
|Total Exports||$48 million||$38 million||$38 million||$38 million|
|Total Imports||$1.184 billion||$750 million||$750 million||$750 million|
|Imports from the US||$120 million||$106 million||$80 million||$80 million|
|Total Market Size||$1.187 billion||$921 billion||$771 million||$771 million|
(Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
Units: $ U.S. Dollars, LBP Lebanese Pounds
Source: Lebanese Customs statistics –Chapter 30
According to local experts, U.S. pharmaceutical products have an advantage over European and Asian products in the biotechnology, high-tech, anti-cancer, and cardiovascular fields. Moreover, new leading American drugs that are not yet manufactured in Europe are typically well received in Lebanon.
There are no specific opportunities or trade events in Lebanon geared to promote U.S. pharmaceutical products. The U.S. Commercial Service provides a wide range of services including, Gold Key Service (GKS) and International Partner Search (IPS), which help U.S. companies explore opportunities in Lebanon.
Lebanese Customs Administration (http://www.customs.gov.lb/home.aspx)
Contact for the Commercial Section that covers the pharmaceuticals/drugs sector: Naaman Tayyar, Head of Commercial Section, Email: Naaman.Tayyar@trade.gov.