Drugs and Medicine Exports by Country

Prescription drug sales include pills and capsules

Prescription drug sales

Global sales from exported drugs and medicines by country in 2017 totaled US$341.5 billion.

Overall the value of drugs and medicine exports increased by an average 0.6% for all exporting countries since 2013 when drugs and medicines shipments were valued at $339.4 billion. Year over year, there was a 2.6% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

Among continents, European countries sold the highest dollar value worth of exported drugs and medicines during 2017. Shipments from Europe amounted to $278.8 billion or about 80% of the global total. In second place were Asian exporters at 9.7% while 8.1% of worldwide drugs and medicine shipments originated from North America.

Smaller percentages came from drugs and medicines suppliers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.9%), Oceania (0.5%) and Africa (0.3%).

The 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefixes for drugs and medicines are:

  • 3003 for medicaments consisting of two or more constituents mixed together (3.8% of global total), and
  • 3004 for medicaments consisting of remaining mixed or unmixed products (96.2%).

Drugs and Medicine Exports by Country


Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of drugs and medicines during 2017.

  1. Germany: US$54.2 billion (15.9% of total drugs and medicines exports)
  2. Switzerland: $41.3 billion (12.1%)
  3. Belgium: $27 billion (7.9%)
  4. France: $24.9 billion (7.3%)
  5. United States: $21.6 billion (6.3%)
  6. United Kingdom: $21.1 billion (6.2%)
  7. Italy: $18.6 billion (5.4%)
  8. Ireland: $17.5 billion (5.1%)
  9. Netherlands: $14.7 billion (4.3%)
  10. India: $11.9 billion (3.5%)
  11. Denmark: $11.3 billion (3.3%)
  12. Spain: $8.4 billion (2.5%)
  13. Sweden: $6.3 billion (1.8%)
  14. Israel: $6.1 billion (1.8%)
  15. Austria: $5.4 billion (1.6%)

By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 85% of all exported drugs and medicine for 2017.

Among the above countries, six top exporters increased their international sales of drugs and medicines since 2013: Denmark (up 249.8%), Switzerland (up 26.5%), Germany (up 11%), India (up 9.4%), Netherlands (up 6.6%) and Israel (up 3.4%).

Posting the worst declines were Belgium (down -20.2%), Spain (down -18.3%), Italy (down -12.5%), France (down -11.9%) and the United States (down -11.7%).

For a complete listing, see the section Searchable List of Medication Exporting Countries near the bottom of this article.


The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for drugs and medicines during 2017. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s drugs and medicine exports and its import purchases for that same commodity.

  1. Germany: US$27.8 billion (net export surplus up 13.9% since 2013)
  2. Switzerland: $21.8 billion (up 27.1%)
  3. Ireland: $12.9 billion (down -11.3%)
  4. France: $10 billion (up 1.7%)
  5. Denmark: $8.2 billion (up 2,274%)
  6. India: $8.1 billion (down -17.5%)
  7. Belgium: $7 billion (down -2.9%)
  8. Netherlands: $6 billion (up 355.1%)
  9. Israel: $5.7 billion (up 29.1%)
  10. Sweden: $3.6 billion (up 12.3%)
  11. Italy: $3.1 billion (down -40.9%)
  12. Singapore: $2.6 billion (down -33.8%)
  13. Austria: $2.1 billion (up 4.1%)
  14. Slovenia: $1.8 billion (down -3.1%)
  15. Hungary: $807.6 million (down -13.8%)

In 2017, Germany surpassed Switzerland for having the highest surplus in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these positive cashflows confirm both countries’ strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.


The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for drugs and medicines during 2017. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s drugs and medicine import purchases and its exports for that same commodity.

  1. United States: -US$44.2 billion (net export deficit up 81.9% since 2013)
  2. China: -$13.8 billion (up 69.8%)
  3. Japan: -$11.9 billion (down -7.4%)
  4. Russia: -$8.1 billion (down -28.9%)
  5. Saudi Arabia: -$3.8 billion (down -7.5%)
  6. Australia: -$3.7 billion (down -19.2%)
  7. South Korea: -$3 billion (up 28.1%)
  8. Brazil: -$2.4 billion (down -9.4%)
  9. Turkey: -$2.2 billion (down -2%)
  10. Taiwan: -$2.08 billion (up 13.5%)
  11. Canada: -$2.07 billion (down -49.6%)
  12. Romania: -$1.9 billion (up 13.8%)
  13. Czech Republic: -$1.77 billion (down -1.1%)
  14. Egypt: -$1.75 billion (up 32.1%)
  15. Mexico: -$1.65 billion (down -16.9%)

By far, United States incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of drugs and medicine. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights America’s strong competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for drugs and medicine-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.


Drugs and Medicine Exporting Companies

Below are conglomerates that rule the global pharmaceuticals market. Shown within parenthesis is the country where the company is headquartered.

  • Pfizer (United States)
  • Novartis (Switzerland)
  • Sanofi (France)
  • Roche Holding (Switzerland)
  • Merck & Co (United States)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (United Kingdom)
  • AstraZeneca (United Kingdom)
  • Eli Lilly & Co (United States)
  • Abbott Laboratories (United States)
  • McKesson (United States)
  • AbbVie (United States)
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (United States)
  • Teva Pharmaceutical (Israel)
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical (Japan)
  • Merck (Germany)
  • Novo Nordisk (Denmark)
  • Cardinal Health (United States)
  • Otsuka Holding (Japan)
  • Astellas Pharma (Japan)
  • AmerisourceBergen (United States)
  • Daiichi Sankyo (Japan)
  • Allergan (United States)
  • Mylan (United States)
  • Actavis (Ireland)
  • Sinopharm Group (China)
  • Valeant Pharmaceuticals (Canada)


Searchable List of Medication Exporting Countries

You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below. The right-most shows the percentage change in value for each exporter since 2013.

RankExporter2017 Medication Exports2013-7
1.Germany$54.2 billion+11%
2.Switzerland$41.3 billion+26.5%
3.Belgium$27 billion-20.2%
4.France$24.9 billion-11.9%
5.United States$21.6 billion-11.7%
6.United Kingdom$21.1 billion-10.4%
7.Italy$18.6 billion-12.5%
8.Ireland$17.5 billion-5.9%
9.Netherlands$14.7 billion+6.6%
10.India$11.9 billion+9.4%
11.Denmark$11.3 billion+249.8%
12.Spain$8.4 billion-18.3%
13.Sweden$6.3 billion-1.7%
14.Israel$6.1 billion+3.4%
15.Austria$5.4 billion-4.6%
16.Canada$5.3 billion+19.5%
17.Singapore$4.1 billion-19.5%
18.China$3.7 billion+23.4%
19.Hungary$3.6 billion-7.6%
20.Poland$3.4 billion+21.9%
21.Japan$3.3 billion+50.3%
22.Slovenia$2.6 billion-6.9%
23.Czech Republic$1.9 billion+52.3%
24.Australia$1.7 billion-41.7%
25.Greece$1.3 billion-5%
26.Hong Kong$1.2 billion+15.1%
27.Portugal$1.1 billion+27.1%
28.Mexico$1 billion-22.2%
29.Brazil$906.5 million-20.8%
30.Bulgaria$899.1 million+12.6%
31.South Korea$828 million+15.3%
32.Romania$804 million-32.4%
33.United Arab Emirates$753.4 million-3.3%
34.Croatia$706.2 million+38.8%
35.Turkey$655.6 million-5.8%
36.Jordan$650.6 million-8.2%
37.Lithuania$635.7 million+40.4%
38.Norway$562.6 million-9.7%
39.Argentina$560.4 million-21.1%
40.Finland$546.4 million-42.2%
41.Russia$475.9 million+18.9%
42.Taiwan$453.2 million+30.8%
43.Indonesia$446.5 million+41.1%
44.Latvia$442.6 million+28.1%
45.Saudi Arabia$431.7 million+26.3%
46.Thailand$374.6 million+30.8%
47.Panama$369.2 million-78.5%
48.South Africa$362.4 million+3.2%
49.Colombia$310.2 million-30.9%
50.Cyprus$308.4 million+1.1%
51.Slovakia$299.3 million-32.8%
52.Malta$290.9 million-15%
53.Serbia$258.1 million+8.7%
54.Egypt$233.2 million-18.9%
55.Guatemala$219 million-4.6%
56.Pakistan$202.8 million+32.2%
57.Malaysia$201.5 million+9.6%
58.Belarus$188.9 million+31.9%
59.Ukraine$173.9 million-26.1%
60.Costa Rica$159.3 million+16%
61.New Zealand$151.4 million-0.5%
62.Iran$148.4 million+52%
63.Georgia$140.6 million+166.6%
64.Chile$136 million-12.7%
65.El Salvador$132.1 million+20.5%
66.Kenya$113.8 million+9.8%
67.Vietnam$110.4 million+34.3%
68.Morocco$93 million-2.6%
69.Macedonia$90.1 million+12.3%
70.Dominican Republic$86.2 million+584.2%
71.Bangladesh$80.7 million+36.9%
72.Luxembourg$80.1 million+4%
73.Estonia$77.1 million+23.2%
74.Bosnia/Herzegovina$75.7 million+36.5%
75.Uruguay$67.6 million-20%
76.Moldova$61.7 million-45.1%
77.Oman$50.1 million+26.3%
78.Lebanon$46 million+29.4%
79.Philippines$45 million+19.1%
80.Tunisia$44.5 million-5.4%
81.Kuwait$40.8 million+118.2%
82.Peru$40.7 million+9%
83.Paraguay$40.1 million-14.3%
84.Ecuador$37.3 million+62.4%
85.Barbados$34.2 million-25.6%
86.Mauritius$32.2 million+11.5%
87.Kazakhstan$21.4 million+6.3%
88.Uganda$14.2 million+63.9%
89.Armenia$13.5 million+105.2%
90.Montenegro$13.2 million+58.4%
91.Iceland$11.5 million-88%
92.Palestine$10.7 million+8.1%
93.Cuba$10 million-95.7%
94.Honduras$8.9 million+11.4%
95.Nepal$8.7 million+2.6%
96.Senegal$8.5 million-9.2%
97.Macao$8 million+765,000%
98.Sri Lanka$6.3 million+344.8%
99.Benin$6.3 million+825.9%
100.Fiji$5.1 million+11.3%
101.Côte d'Ivoire$4.2 million-15%
102.Guyana$4.1 million+23.5%
103.Belize$4 million+399,700%
104.Algeria$3.8 million+67.8%
105.Nicaragua$3.8 million+126.7%
106.Qatar$3.5 million+348,900%
107.Venezuela$3.3 million+5,012%
108.Uzbekistan$3.2 million+25.8%
109.Cambodia$2.8 million+65%
110.Syrian Arab Republic$2.6 million-89.7%
111.Curaçao$2.6 million-46%
112.Gibraltar$2.1 million+26,463%
113.Ghana$2 million+90.7%
114.Mali$1.9 million+185,500%
115.Bolivia$1.8 million-42.2%
116.Albania$1.8 million+26.7%
117.Jamaica$1.8 million-50.9%
118.Zimbabwe$1.6 million-12.1%
119.North Korea$1.3 million-29.6%
120.Niger$1.3 million+501.9%
121.Namibia$1.2 million+210.6%
122.Togo$1.1 million-80.1%
125.US Minor Outlying Is$806,000-94.7%
128.Democratic Rep. Congo$699,000-3.5%
137.Saint Lucia$344,000+17%
139.Central African Republic$318,000+31,700%
141.Cook Islands$297,000+1,314%
147.Burkina Faso$228,000-69.6%
149.British Indian Ocean Terr$196,000+19,500%
150.Brunei Darussalam$174,000-64.9%
153.Papua New Guinea$115,000-62.9%
160.Myanmar (Burma)$70,000-74.1%
163.British Virgin Islands$63,000-86.2%
165.Cayman Islands$57,000-6.6%
171.St Maarten (Dutch)$18,000+200%
174.St Vincent/Grenadines$12,000+200%
177.Christmas Island$7,000+600%
180.Saint Helena$5,000-97.1%
182.Turks/Caicos Islands$4,000-93.4%
185.Saint Kitts/Nevis$2,000-66.7%
186.New Caledonia$2,000-99.9%
187.Solomon Islands$2,000+100%
188.Faroe Islands$2,000+100%

See also Imports of Drugs and Medicines by Country, Heart Pacemaker Export Sales by Country, Top Cannabis Oils Exports by Country and Hearing Aids Importers by Country

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 30, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 30, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 30, 2018

Wikipedia, List of pharmaceutical companies. Accessed on June 30, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 30, 2018