“The Greek pharmaceutical market: Facts and Figures 2020” Pandemic, demographics and the other major challenges

Press Release SFEE – IOBE & Presentation of the report


Athens, June 24th, 2021. – Today, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), jointly with the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), held a press conference to present the publication “The Greek pharmaceutical market: Facts and Figures 2020”, as well as the main conclusions of the study entitled “The contribution of the pharmaceutical industry to the Greek economy”.

The annual report “The Greek pharmaceutical market: Facts and Figures 2020” reviews key data, developments and trends in the Greek and European pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. The focus is on the current challenges facing the industry and the prospects of the healthcare sector in general.

This year’s report highlights the significant challenges posed to the global community by the COVID-19 pandemic in both 2020 and 2021. In response to the health crisis, the European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, has taken short- and long-term action to protect the health and well-being of EU citizens and save lives. The coronavirus crisis caused a significant downturn in the Greek economy (recession -8.2%), as well as in other developed and industrialised countries across the world. At the same time, European health systems are called upon to re-assess public funding for health expenditure.

The health and pharmaceutical care needs of the population are affected by the typical demographic challenges faced by the healthcare sector in our country. Thus, the long-term decline in the number of births (down by 41 thousand in 2019) and the projected rise in the share of persons aged over 65 years, from 22.3% of total population in 2020 to 33.5% by 2060, lead to a growing need for public funding of healthcare and pharmaceutical coverage. The participation of the private sector has increased significantly, but it is not certain that it can be maintained at high levels in an environment of long-term unemployment and falling incomes.

In the area of pharmaceutical coverage, total outpatient pharmaceutical expenditure in Greece came to €3.9 billion in 2020 (of which only €2.0 billion represent public funding). A heavy burden continues to fall on patients and the private sector, mostly the pharmaceutical industry through its clawback and rebate payments, despite the ambitious efforts made to contain them. It is worth noting that the pharmaceutical industry continues to meet Greek patients’ pharmaceutical care needs through claw-back, effectively providing for free more than one in three medicines (36%) in outpatient care and almost one in two (50%) in hospital care.

The growth dimension of the pharmaceutical industry remains important, as its research and development (R&D) expenditure represents 5% of total private R&D expenditure in Greece (2017), while 3,114 independent clinical trials were conducted between 2002 and 2020 (1,800 completed). The pharmaceutical industry’s output in value terms amounted to €1.4 billion in 2019 and its value added to €1.2 billion (accounting for 6.6% of total manufacturing value added). Staff employed in the manufacturing of medicinal products and preparations exceeded 23.3 thousand in 2020, with 57.1% being university graduates (for 2018). The role of the pharmaceutical industry in Greece’s foreign trade is also important, as pharmaceutical exports amounted to €2.9 billion in 2020 and corresponded to 9.4% of total Greek exports of goods for 2020.

IOBE also updated its assessment of the footprint of the pharmaceutical industry in the Greek economy. According to its most recent estimates, the pharmaceutical industry’s contribution to domestic output totalled €6.7 billion (3.6% of GDP) in 2019. Thus, every €1 of value added by companies operating in the pharmaceutical sector generates another €3.3 in the Greek economy as a whole. In terms of employment, the industry’s overall contribution is estimated at 153 thousand jobs (or 3.9% of total employment). That is, each job in the pharmaceutical industry supports another 3 full-time equivalent jobs in the total economy. Finally, the impact on tax revenues from the activity of the pharmaceutical sector is estimated at about €2.0 billion.

In his address, SFEE President Mr. Olympios Papadimitriou noted: “The pharmaceutical industry is a sector of strategic importance for our country, with a strong economic footprint. The important steps taken in the past period to strengthen the viability of our industry, need to continue, on the one hand because we need more predictability and, on the other, because the solution to the problems raised by the pandemic undoubtedly involves a strong pharmaceutical industry as a pillar of good public health. Efforts to eliminate delays in the entry of new medicinal products into the domestic market must continue, while it is even more important to complete important structural reforms that have been stalled for years. Since June 2020, we have submitted to the government a number of realistic and substantiated proposals that are centred around seven key lines of action:

  1. Re-determining public pharmaceutical expenditure and establishing co-responsibility of the pharmaceutical industry and the State.
  2. Increasing the efficiency of health expenditure, completing reforms, reinforcing Primary Care.
  3. Reviewing the claw-back mechanism.
  4. Enhancing patients’ access to innovative treatments.
  5. Promoting investment, by strengthening incentives for productive investment and investment in clinical research, Data Centers and fostering partnerships between international and Greek companies.
  6. Strengthening system supervision and utilising digital capabilities.
  7. Promoting social and ethical responsibility.

The road to the future must be based on a bilateral agreement between the pharmaceutical industry and the State, which will ensure the necessary predictability and, ultimately, the viability of the industry. Such agreements (MoUs) are a common practice in Europe and facilitate bilateral cooperation. The commitments included in the national Recovery and Resilience Plan, which was recently approved by the European Commission, are an important first step in this direction”.


See the report


The report and the relevant presentations are available on the websites of IOBE ( and SFEE (


For more information:

Maria Leontari, Communications Director, SFEE, 210 6821040, [email protected]

Nancy Roussia, Press Office, IOBE, 210 9211200-10, [email protected]

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