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Ukraine Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Report Q4 2009

In line with the collapse of the broader Ukrainian economy, it is expected the US dollar value of the pharmaceutical market to contract massively – by 37.6% – by the end of 2009. The good news for the industry is that the economy is expected to begin to recover in 2010, and the market is forecast to post a modest five-year 1.30% compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) in US dollar terms. Still, Ukraine is a dismal spot for multinational pharmaceutical companies operating in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – its economic crisis feeding and exacerbated by continued political deadlock in Kyiv ahead of January 2010’s presidential polls. The result is the lowest forecast five-year growth rate among CIS countries.

The latest US$3.3bn tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) allowed Ukraine to pay Russia’s Gazprom for gas supplied in July as well as pay down its international debt. However, the economic situation remains dire, with the report forecasting a 14.7% decline in real GDP and some observers contemplating a 20% fall. The crisis has shelved – for now – the public healthcare reform plans promised by the current Prime Minister, YuliaTymoshenko, although she will likely make it a central part of her presidential election platform as she continues to make populist appeals to appeal to voters in the industrial and Russophone eastern part of the country.

The prime minister’s penchant for interventionism remains a concern for pharmaceutical producers, both foreign and domestic. In early August, industry representatives published an open letter regarding the wide powers assigned to the State Inspectorate for Quality Control of Medicinal Products, a once moribund agency revived by the prime minister – despite opposition from President Viktor Yushchenko – which has been given wide powers to register and regulate medicines prices, Meanwhile, the country’s public healthcare system remains a shambles, a fact underlined by a World Bank study published in June which noted that about one half of all deaths before the age of 75 in Ukraine could be avoided through adequate prevention and treatment.

There are a few rays of light in a generally grim operating environment, as the parliament approved new legislation making it easier to establish public-private partnerships – with healthcare infrastructure identified as a key sector for such initiatives. French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, already a market leader, expanded its local footprint by establishing a limited liability company in June, allowing it local market status and enhanced ability to deal directly with healthcare professionals. Still, the market continues to pose massive challenges, as underlined by continued court wrangling over a majority stake in insulin maker Indar, the country’s highest profile domestic producer. In 2008, around 70% of the company’s shares were transferred to a little-known UK company in a still murky episode which highlights the unpredictability of the market. The State Treasury is attempting to recover the share, but the episode has prevented Polish drugmaker Bioton from obtaining a controlling stake, a move that would have brought badly needed capital and management expertise to the company.


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