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 totaled US$378.6 billion in 2018.

Overall the value of drugs and medicine exports grew by an average 6.9% for all exporting countries since 2014 when drugs and medicines shipments were valued at $354 billion. Year over year, there was a 7.8% uptick from 2017 to 2018.

Among continents, European countries sold the highest dollar value worth of exported drugs and medicines during 2018 with shipments from Europe totaling $304.8 billion or 80.5% of the global total. In second place were Asian pharmaceutical exporters at 10.1% while 7.9% of worldwide drugs and medicine shipments originated from North America.

Smaller percentages came from drugs and medicines suppliers in Latin America (0.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand, and Africa (0.2%).

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

  • 3003 for medicaments consisting of two or more constituents mixed together (4.9% of global total), and
  • 3004 for medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products (95.1%).

Drugs and Medicine Exports by Country


Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of drugs and medicines during 2018.

  1. Germany: US$62.3 billion (16.5% of total drugs/medicines exports)
  2. Switzerland: $45.3 billion (12%)
  3. Belgium: $27.8 billion (7.4%)
  4. France: $25.9 billion (6.8%)
  5. Netherlands: $25.6 billion (6.8%)
  6. United States: $22.1 billion (5.8%)
  7. Ireland: $21.7 billion (5.7%)
  8. United Kingdom: $19.7 billion (5.2%)
  9. Italy: $19.7 billion (5.2%)
  10. India: $13.1 billion (3.5%)
  11. Denmark: $12.9 billion (3.4%)
  12. Spain: $9 billion (2.4%)
  13. Canada: $6.8 billion (1.8%)
  14. Sweden: $6.7 billion (1.8%)
  15. Austria: $5.5 billion (1.5%)

By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 85.6% of all exported drugs and medicine for 2018.

Among the above countries, the fastest-growing drugs/medicines exporters since 2013 were: Denmark (up 292.8%), Netherlands (up 30.4%), Switzerland (up 26.7%) and India (up 22.5%).

Those countries that posted declines in their exported drugs/medicines sales were led by: United Kingdom (down -18.1%), United States (down -14.3%), Italy (down -12.4%), Belgium (down -8.9%) and Austria (down -8.3%).


The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for drugs and medicines during 2018. 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$33.2 billion (net export surplus up 31.9% since 2014)
  2. Switzerland: $25.7 billion (up 29.8%)
  3. Ireland: $12.2 billion (down -23.9%)
  4. India: $12 billion (up 22.4%)
  5. France: $10.3 billion (up 26.8%)
  6. Denmark: $9.5 billion (up 8,206%)
  7. Belgium: $7.3 billion (up 4%)
  8. Netherlands: $6.7 billion (up 66.7%)
  9. Sweden: $3.9 billion (up 17.2%)
  10. Italy: $3.3 billion (down -51.1%)
  11. Singapore: $3.6 billion (down -17.2%)
  12. Israel: $3.7 billion (down -19.2%)
  13. United Kingdom: -$163.6 million (down -127.7%)
  14. Austria: $1.7 billion (down -21.9%)
  15. Slovenia: $1.7 billion (down -10.9%)

Germany and Switzerland have the highest surpluses 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 2018. 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$51.1 billion (net export deficit up 65.7% since 2013)
  2. China: -$14.2 billion (up 39.9%)
  3. Japan: -$12.5 billion (up 5.3%)
  4. Russia: -$7.3 billion (down -24.4%)
  5. Australia: -$3.6 billion (down -22.2%)
  6. South Korea: -$3.1 billion (up 28.6%)
  7. Brazil: -$2.6 billion (up 5.8%)
  8. Saudi Arabia: -$2.5 billion (down -22.4%)
  9. Poland: -$2.4 billion (up 76.7%)
  10. Taiwan: -$2.3 billion (up 22.6%)
  11. Romania: -$2 billion (up 19.5%)
  12. Spain: -$2 billion (down -21.3%)
  13. Czech Republic: -$2 billion (up 16%)
  14. Egypt: -$1.8 billion (up 29%)
  15. Turkey: -$1.7 billion (down -24.4%)

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 consumer demand.


Drugs and Medicine Exporting Companies

Below are conglomerates that are leading suppliers satisfying the global demand for pharmaceuticals. Shown within parenthesis is the country where the supplying 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 in 2018

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 2014.

RankExporterMedication Exports (US$)%World Total
1.Germany$62.3 billion16.5%
2.Switzerland$45.3 billion12%
3.Belgium$27.8 billion7.4%
4.France$25.9 billion6.8%
5.Netherlands$25.6 billion6.8%
6.United States$22.1 billion5.8%
7.Ireland$21.7 billion5.7%
8.United Kingdom$19.7 billion5.2%
9.Italy$19.7 billion5.2%
10.India$13.1 billion3.5%
11.Denmark$12.9 billion3.4%
12.Spain$9 billion2.4%
13.Canada$6.8 billion1.8%
14.Sweden$6.7 billion1.8%
15.Austria$5.5 billion1.5%
16.Israel$5.3 billion1.4%
17.Singapore$5.2 billion1.4%
18.China$4.6 billion1.2%
19.Japan$4.2 billion1.1%
20.Hungary$3.9 billion1%
21.Slovenia$3.4 billion0.9%
22.Poland$2.8 billion0.7%
23.Czech Republic$2.2 billion0.6%
24.Australia$1.8 billion0.5%
25.Greece$1.7 billion0.4%
26.Hong Kong$1.2 billion0.3%
27.Mexico$1.2 billion0.3%
28.Portugal$1 billion0.3%
29.Bulgaria$956.9 million0.3%
30.Romania$861.3 million0.2%
31.South Korea$855.8 million0.2%
32.Brazil$853.2 million0.2%
33.Turkey$711.9 million0.2%
34.Norway$707.1 million0.2%
35.Croatia$665.3 million0.2%
36.Jordan$647.3 million0.2%
37.Lithuania$627 million0.2%
38.Finland$555.9 million0.1%
39.Russia$518 million0.1%
40.Argentina$501.4 million0.1%
41.Latvia$475.6 million0.1%
42.Indonesia$440.7 million0.1%
43.Taiwan$404.9 million0.1%
44.Thailand$393.9 million0.1%
45.Slovakia$380 million0.1%
46.Cyprus$351.2 million0.1%
47.South Africa$344.7 million0.1%
48.Malta$336.7 million0.1%
49.Colombia$311.3 million0.1%
50.Serbia$264.9 million0.1%
51.Belarus$214.2 million0.1%
52.Malaysia$203.2 million0.1%
53.Egypt$200.7 million0.1%
54.Panama$195.6 million0.1%
55.Pakistan$193.8 million0.1%
56.Ukraine$184.4 million0.05%
57.Costa Rica$182.7 million0.05%
58.Chile$155.4 million0.04%
59.Georgia$147.2 million0.04%
60.New Zealand$146.5 million0.04%
61.El Salvador$131.6 million0.03%
62.United Arab Emirates$116.6 million0.03%
63.Saudi Arabia$107.9 million0.03%
64.North Macedonia$103.8 million0.03%
65.Morocco$100.2 million0.03%
66.Vietnam$97.3 million0.03%
67.Luxembourg$95.7 million0.03%
68.Estonia$92.2 million0.02%
69.Bosnia/Herzegovina$86.5 million0.02%
70.Uruguay$73.8 million0.02%
71.Kenya$71.6 million0.02%
72.Moldova$70.5 million0.02%
73.Guatemala$65.8 million0.02%
74.Lebanon$55 million0.01%
75.Bangladesh$51.1 million0.01%
76.Peru$42.5 million0.01%
77.Eswatini$41 million0.01%
78.Paraguay$38.1 million0.01%
79.Montenegro$35.1 million0.01%
80.Ecuador$34.7 million0.01%
81.Philippines$31.7 million0.01%
82.Barbados$28.6 million0.01%
83.Mauritius$28 million0.01%
84.Kazakhstan$26.6 million0.01%
85.Dominican Republic$22.1 million0.01%
86.Uganda$21.8 million0.01%
87.Tunisia$20.8 million0.01%
88.Mali$16.1 million0.004%
89.Oman$15.3 million0.004%
90.Iran$14.9 million0.004%
91.Macao$12.5 million0.003%
92.Armenia$11.8 million0.003%
93.Palestine$9 million0.002%
94.Cuba$8.8 million0.002%
95.Fiji$7.5 million0.002%
96.Nepal$6.2 million0.002%
97.Algeria$6 million0.002%
98.Senegal$4.2 million0.001%
99.Ivory Coast$4 million0.001%
100.Ghana$3.6 million0.001%
101.Uzbekistan$3.5 million0.001%
102.Venezuela$3.3 million0.001%
103.Zimbabwe$3.2 million0.001%
104.Guyana$2.7 million0.001%
105.Belize$2.5 million0.001%
106.Anguilla$2.3 million0.001%
107.Honduras$2.1 million0.001%
108.Cambodia$2 million0.001%
109.Nicaragua$1.9 million0.001%
110.Tanzania$1.8 million0.0005%
111.Sierra Leone$1.3 million0.0003%
112.Sri Lanka$1.2 million0.0003%
135.Brunei Darussalam$188,0000.00005%
136.North Korea$187,0000.00005%
137.Papua New Guinea$185,0000.00005%
139.Br. Indian Ocean Terr$166,0000.00004%
145.Burkina Faso$96,0000.00003%
147.Myanmar (Burma)$69,0000.00002%
150.Turks/Caicos Islands$58,0000.00002%
157.British Virgin Is$33,0000.00001%
162.US Minor Outlying Is$13,0000.000003%
165.Democr. Rep. Congo$11,0000.000003%
166.Cayman Islands$9,0000.000002%
174.Solomon Islands$5,0000.000001%
176.St Vincent/Grenadines$4,0000.000001%
179.Cocos (Keeling) Is$3,0000.000001%
180.Faroe Islands$2,0000.000001%
181.Antigua and Barbuda$2,0000.000001%
182.French Polynesia$1,0000.0000003%
184.Saint Lucia$1,0000.0000003%
185.Saint Helena$1,0000.0000003%

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

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 11, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 11, 2019

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 11, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 11, 2019

Wikipedia, Drug. Accessed on May 11, 2019

Wikipedia, List of pharmaceutical companies. Accessed on May 11, 2019