Thailand is one of the leading pharmaceutical markets in Southeast Asia. Its Universal Health Coverage scheme has made pharmaceuticals more affordable and accessible to every citizen, contributing to the rising sales of the pharmaceutical market in Thailand. The government has also introduced a strategic plan to develop Thailand into the medical hub in Asia, to attract foreign patients and medical tourists. This is expected to contribute to the healthcare industry, including the pharmaceutical market.
Growth over the years
From 2013 to 2018, pharmaceutical sales in Thailand grew by 4.5 percent on average per year. While much of the manufacturing plants for pharmaceuticals are concentrated in developed economies, there were still 144 Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standardized pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Thailand. With the available resources, pharmaceutical production in Thailand generated more than 75 billion Thai baht worth of pharmaceuticals in the country in recent years. In terms of the distribution, there were around 14 thousand pharmacies in the county, excluding public hospitals. These pharmacies were one of the main types of distribution channels for pharmaceuticals. However, around five thousand pharmacies were shut down in 2019 for not meeting the GMP standards.
In the coming years, the pharmaceutical market in Thailand was expected to grow by around four to five percent due to increasing consumer demands and support from governmental policies. This included a five-year income tax exemption for investments in the pharmaceutical market facilitated by the Board of Investments of Thailand. Furthermore, the medical tourism sector was predicted to recover after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the next few years, contributing to the growth of the pharmaceutical market. Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there was an increase in the number of newly established pharmaceutical and medical supply businesses. This suggested that there were opportunities in the market despite the crisis. Additionally, once travel restrictions against the pandemic would be lifted, the recovering number of medical tourists could also further positively impact the pharmaceutical market in Thailand.