Sri Lanka - Country Commercial Guide
Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment 

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-28


Demand for healthcare services is rising due to an aging population.  Nearly 8 percent of the population was aged 65 or older at the end of 2020 – a figure likely to double by 2030. 

The government continues its policy of providing free healthcare at public hospitals.  Government expenditure for the health sector was approximately $1.3 billion in 2020.

Increasing access to private health services is also a focus of the government, as it is difficult for the public sector alone to meet the demand for healthcare services.  The private sector has invested considerably in healthcare, especially in Colombo and some of the major cities, which has eased some of the burden for the state.  The demand for private sector healthcare has increased with higher income levels and changing preferences.  The provision of health insurance has also supported the growth in the private healthcare sector.  There are 603 government hospitals, nearly 200 private hospitals of varying sizes, 5,000 private pharmacies, and 1,000 laboratories in Sri Lanka.

The healthcare industry provides good opportunities for U.S. medical equipment.  Well-known international brands command a premium.  Diagnostic equipment, operating theater equipment, intensive care equipment, clinical analyzers, and hematology equipment continue to offer the best sales prospects for U.S. firms.  

The pharmaceutical sector is heavily dependent on imports with around 85 percent of the requirement coming from abroad.  The government plans to establish a pharmaceutical zone to manufacture some products locally.  The Cosmetic Drugs and Devices Regulatory Authority regulates the pharmaceutical and medical devices sector to ensure the quality, safety, and efficacy of drugs and medical equipment.  Although many pharmaceutical imports are from regional sources, the higher quality and efficacy of Western manufactured devices are widely acknowledged by medical practitioners and consumers.  Registration of medical devices can be time-consuming with extensive detail required by the authorities. 

Private hospitals in Colombo are equipped with up-to-date equipment, and these hospitals provide good opportunities for U.S. suppliers.  Government tenders for equipment and projects represent other opportunities for U.S. companies in healthcare.  Engaging local representatives with experience in the medical sector and maintaining good connections to both public and private sector health providers are important for medical equipment suppliers to succeed. 

U.S. exports of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to Sri Lanka were valued at approximately $23 million in 2019.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Supplying of medical equipment to the government


The government’s medicine and equipment purchases are done on a tender basis, and the health ministry updates its website regularly at


Ministry of Health                                                

World Bank                                                             

Durdans Hospital                                                 

Asiri Group of Hospitals                                    

Lanka Hospitals                                                   

Nawaloka Hospitals