Imports of Drugs and Medicines by Country

Pharmaceuticals closeup (

Pharmaceuticals closeup

Worldwide purchases of imported pharmaceutical drugs and medicines cost a total US$399.7 billion in 2018.

Overall, spending on pharmaceutical drugs and medicine imports rose 5.9% for all importer countries since 2014 when import purchases of drugs and medicines were valued at $377.4 billion. Year over year, international purchases of drugs and medicines appreciated by 5.2% from 2017 to 2018.

From a continental perspective, European countries paid for more than half (53.7%) of the worldwide drugs and medicines imported during 2018 with pharmaceutical purchases valued at $198.8 billion. In second place were North American importers at 20.9%. Close behind, 17.9% of imported pharmaceuticals were delivered to customers in Asia. Smaller percentages were delivered to Latin America (3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (2.9%) then Oceania (1.6%) led by Australia and New Zealand.

The metrics below combine subtotals for two 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefixes for drugs and medicine subcategories, specifically prefixes 3003 and 3004.

Drugs and Medicines Imports by Country

Top 15

Drugs and Medicines: Top 15 Importer Countries

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

  1. United States: US$72.8 billion (18.2% of imported prescription drugs/medicines)
  2. Germany: $29.1 billion (7.3%)
  3. Belgium: $20.5 billion (5.1%)
  4. United Kingdom: $19.9 billion (5%)
  5. Switzerland: $19.7 billion (4.9%)
  6. Netherlands: $18.9 billion (4.7%)
  7. China: $18.4 billion (4.6%)
  8. Japan: $16.7 billion (4.2%)
  9. Italy: $16.4 billion (4.1%)
  10. France: $15.6 billion (3.9%)
  11. Spain: $10.9 billion (2.7%)
  12. Ireland: $9.5 billion (2.4%)
  13. Russian Federation: $8.1 billion (2%)
  14. Canada: $7.8 billion (2%)
  15. Australia: $5.4 billion (1.3%)

By value, the listed 15 countries purchased 72.4% of all drugs and medicines imported during 2018. Within parenthesis is the percentage of the global total for imported drugs and medicines.

Among the above countries, the fastest-growing markets for prescription drugs and medicines since 2014 were: Ireland (up 148.8%), China (up 41%), United States (up 30.6%) and Switzerland (up 22.9%).

Those countries that posted declines in their imported prescription drugs and medicines purchases were led by: Australia (down -20.8%), Russia (down -20.7%), France (down -15.4%) and United Kingdom (down -15.3%).

All Countries

Drugs and Medicines: All Importer Countries in 2018

You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below.

RankImporterImported Pharmaceuticals (US$)%World Total
1.United States$72.8 billion18.2%
2.Germany$29.1 billion7.3%
3.Belgium$20.5 billion5.1%
4.United Kingdom$19.9 billion5%
5.Switzerland$19.7 billion4.9%
6.Netherlands$18.9 billion4.7%
7.China$18.4 billion4.6%
8.Japan$16.7 billion4.2%
9.Italy$16.4 billion4.1%
10.France$15.6 billion3.9%
11.Spain$10.9 billion2.7%
12.Ireland$9.5 billion2.4%
13.Russia$8.1 billion2%
14.Canada$7.8 billion2%
15.Australia$5.4 billion1.3%
16.Poland$5.2 billion1.3%
17.Czech Republic$4.1 billion1%
18.South Korea$4 billion1%
19.Austria$3.9 billion1%
20.Brazil$3.6 billion0.9%
21.Denmark$3.4 billion0.9%
22.Hungary$3.4 billion0.8%
23.Romania$3 billion0.8%
24.Mexico$2.9 billion0.7%
25.Taiwan$2.8 billion0.7%
26.Sweden$2.8 billion0.7%
27.Saudi Arabia$2.7 billion0.7%
28.Turkey$2.5 billion0.6%
29.Greece$2.5 billion0.6%
30.Hong Kong$2.4 billion0.6%
31.Portugal$2.4 billion0.6%
32.Egypt$2 billion0.5%
33.South Africa$1.9 billion0.5%
34.Thailand$1.8 billion0.4%
35.United Arab Emirates$1.7 billion0.4%
36.Norway$1.7 billion0.4%
37.Vietnam$1.7 billion0.4%
38.Finland$1.7 billion0.4%
39.Slovenia$1.6 billion0.4%
40.Slovakia$1.6 billion0.4%
41.Israel$1.6 billion0.4%
42.Singapore$1.6 billion0.4%
43.Ukraine$1.5 billion0.4%
44.Colombia$1.5 billion0.4%
45.Philippines$1.3 billion0.3%
46.Bulgaria$1.3 billion0.3%
47.Malaysia$1.3 billion0.3%
48.Argentina$1.2 billion0.3%
49.Algeria$1.2 billion0.3%
50.India$1.1 billion0.3%
51.Chile$1 billion0.3%
52.Lebanon$964.6 million0.2%
53.Lithuania$957.8 million0.2%
54.Panama$927.9 million0.2%
55.Kazakhstan$888.8 million0.2%
56.Croatia$825.1 million0.2%
57.Iraq$755.1 million0.2%
58.Iran$741.1 million0.2%
59.Ecuador$732.5 million0.2%
60.Serbia$720.5 million0.2%
61.New Zealand$658.1 million0.2%
62.Indonesia$634.1 million0.2%
63.Costa Rica$588.4 million0.1%
64.Latvia$587.1 million0.1%
65.Pakistan$541 million0.1%
66.Peru$536 million0.1%
67.Uzbekistan$519.5 million0.1%
68.Belarus$500.1 million0.1%
69.Estonia$499.6 million0.1%
70.Jordan$473.3 million0.1%
71.Myanmar (Burma)$448.4 million0.1%
72.Luxembourg$444.9 million0.1%
73.Morocco$432 million0.1%
74.Kenya$413.5 million0.1%
75.Nigeria$402.8 million0.1%
76.Kuwait$390.8 million0.1%
77.Qatar$380.3 million0.1%
78.Democr. Rep. Congo$354.6 million0.1%
79.Georgia$345.7 million0.1%
80.Tunisia$333.3 million0.1%
81.Ivory Coast$327.8 million0.1%
82.El Salvador$321.9 million0.1%
83.Sri Lanka$312.9 million0.1%
84.Ethiopia$310.2 million0.1%
85.Libya$297.9 million0.1%
86.Bosnia/Herzegovina$278.6 million0.1%
87.Malta$266.1 million0.1%
88.Ghana$252.6 million0.1%
89.Macao$244.6 million0.1%
90.Cyprus$243.1 million0.1%
91.Uganda$237.3 million0.1%
92.Guatemala$236.6 million0.1%
93.Sudan$230 million0.1%
94.Nepal$225.1 million0.1%
95.Moldova$224.2 million0.1%
96.Azerbaijan$222.7 million0.1%
97.Zambia$215 million0.1%
98.Oman$209.2 million0.1%
99.Tanzania$206.4 million0.1%
100.Cambodia$196.9 million0.05%
101.Senegal$188.1 million0.05%
102.Burkina Faso$187.9 million0.05%
103.Yemen$182.5 million0.05%
104.North Macedonia$177.2 million0.04%
105.Zimbabwe$174.6 million0.04%
106.Uruguay$165.3 million0.04%
107.Dominican Republic$163.3 million0.04%
108.Paraguay$160.6 million0.04%
109.Angola$160.3 million0.04%
110.Iceland$157.9 million0.04%
111.Albania$157.6 million0.04%
112.Mozambique$156.2 million0.04%
113.Cameroon$154 million0.04%
114.Afghanistan$151.5 million0.04%
115.Mali$147.3 million0.04%
116.Bolivia$147 million0.04%
117.Kyrgyzstan$143.5 million0.04%
118.Honduras$137.2 million0.03%
119.Armenia$132.8 million0.03%
120.Guinea$131.8 million0.03%
121.Namibia$125.7 million0.03%
122.Mauritius$121 million0.03%
123.Bahrain$108.4 million0.03%
124.Madagascar$91.9 million0.02%
125.Malawi$91.3 million0.02%
126.Botswana$90.6 million0.02%
127.Nicaragua$90.5 million0.02%
128.Mongolia$85.6 million0.02%
129.Bangladesh$80.8 million0.02%
130.New Caledonia$78.9 million0.02%
131.French Polynesia$76.2 million0.02%
132.Niger$75.9 million0.02%
133.Venezuela$73.6 million0.02%
134.Benin$73.2 million0.02%
135.Turkmenistan$72.8 million0.02%
136.Syria$71 million0.02%
137.Togo$68.4 million0.02%
138.Montenegro$63.8 million0.02%
139.Gabon$60 million0.02%
140.Brunei Darussalam$56.3 million0.01%
141.Congo$54 million0.01%
142.Cuba$53.7 million0.01%
143.Somalia$53.4 million0.01%
144.Jamaica$53.1 million0.01%
145.Barbados$45.9 million0.01%
146.Chad$45.2 million0.01%
147.Rwanda$43.9 million0.01%
148.Mauritania$42.8 million0.01%
149.Trinidad/Tobago$40.9 million0.01%
150.North Korea$38.1 million0.01%
151.Papua New Guinea$37.6 million0.01%
152.Tajikistan$34.8 million0.01%
153.Andorra$31.8 million0.01%
154.Eswatini$29 million0.01%
155.Palestine$28.4 million0.01%
156.Burundi$28.1 million0.01%
157.Guyana$27.9 million0.01%
158.Djibouti$26.5 million0.01%
159.Lesotho$26.1 million0.01%
160.Fiji$26 million0.01%
161.Curaçao$25.7 million0.01%
162.Laos$25.2 million0.01%
163.Haiti$24.8 million0.01%
164.Sierra Leone$24.7 million0.01%
165.Liberia$23.9 million0.01%
166.South Sudan$20.7 million0.01%
167.Bermuda$20.5 million0.01%
168.Maldives$20.2 million0.01%
169.Faroe Islands$19.8 million0.005%
170.Aruba$17.3 million0.004%
171.Bahamas$16.4 million0.004%
172.Gibraltar$14.7 million0.004%
173.Cayman Islands$13.3 million0.003%
174.Belize$10.6 million0.003%
175.Cabo Verde$10.3 million0.003%
176.Suriname$9.4 million0.002%
177.Central African Rep$8.9 million0.002%
178.Equatorial Guinea$8 million0.002%
179.Eritrea$6.2 million0.002%
180.Saint Lucia$6.2 million0.002%
181.Antigua/Barbuda$6 million0.002%
182.Seychelles$6 million0.001%
183.St Maarten (Dutch)$5.4 million0.001%
184.Bonaire/St Eustatius/Saba$5.2 million0.001%
185.Timor-Leste$5 million0.001%
186.Samoa$4.7 million0.001%
187.Vanuatu$4.6 million0.001%
188.Gambia$4.4 million0.001%
189.Grenada$3.9 million0.001%
190.British Virgin Islands$3.9 million0.001%
191.St Vincent/Grenadines$3.6 million0.001%
192.Comoros$3.6 million0.001%
193.Bhutan$3 million0.001%
194.Saint Kitts/Nevis$2.7 million0.001%
195.St. Pierre/Miquelon$2.6 million0.001%
196.Guinea-Bissau$2.5 million0.001%
197.Turks/Caicos Islands$2.2 million0.001%
198.Solomon Islands$2.2 million0.001%
199.Dominica$2.2 million0.001%
200.Falkland Is (Malvinas)$1.5 million0.0004%
201.Cook Islands$1.2 million0.0003%
202.Sao Tome/Principe$1.1 million0.0003%
203.Marshall Islands$1.1 million0.0003%
204.Tonga$1 million0.0003%
205.Wallis/Futuna Islands$979,0000.0002%
207.Saint Helena$907,0000.0002%
210.US Minor Outlying Is$423,0000.0001%
211.Christmas Island$410,0000.0001%
217.Northern Mariana Islands$255,0000.0001%
219.French S./Antarctic Terr$102,0000.00003%
220.Norfolk Island$34,0000.00001%
221.British Indian Ocean Territory$31,0000.00001%

The countries showcased in the above table represent 100% of pharmaceutical imported drugs and medicines purchased in 2018.

Among the above countries, the fastest-growing markets for prescription drugs and medicines since 2014 were: Northern Mariana Islands (up 8,400%), Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (up 2,734%), Kiribati (up 595.6%) and Bhutan (up 316.2%).

Those countries that posted declines in their purchases of imported prescription drugs and medicines were led by: United States Minor Outlying Islands (down -99.3%), British Indian Ocean Territory (down -99.2%), Greenland (down -98%) and Venezuela (down -96.1%).

Major Companies

Drugs and Medicines Suppliers

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


See also Drugs and Medicine Exports by Country, Fresh or Frozen Beef Imports by Country and Natural Honey Imports by Country

Research Sources:
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 11, 2019

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – 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