Pharmaceutical sales, according to projections from market research firm Business Monitor International (BMI), amounted to $1.5 billion in 2014, a projected increase of 8.4 percent over the previous year. Imports made up 95 percent of those sales. Going into further detail, BMI estimates nearly 74 percent of total sales in 2014 ($1.1 billion) were for prescription medication and that patented drugs accounted for almost 46.2 percent ($700 million) of total spending on pharmaceuticals and 26.6 percent ($400 million) spent on generics with the remaining sales attributed to over the counter medicines. Put another way, their projections highlight patented drugs as 46 percent of pharmaceutical expenditure in 2014. Meanwhile, generics remain low as a percentage of prescribed medications. Walid Ammar, director general of the ministry of public health, says the figure lies somewhere between 15 and 20 percent by volume. To determine the nominal value of Ammar’s percentages, one must rely upon BMI projections due to the unavailability of government data and the unwillingness by both the Order of Physicians and the Order of Pharmacists to share these numbers.
Local manufacturers’ contribution to pharmaceutical sales, according to BMI, accounted for about 5 percent of total pharmaceutical sales in 2014. Much of the production by local manufacturers is exported mainly to countries in the Arab region, with Saudi Arabia a leading consumer of Lebanese medicine. The government supports Lebanon’s pharmaceutical manufacturers by giving tax incentives on exports. In 2014, Lebanon exported 936 tons of pharmaceutical products worth $38 million.