“The Greek pharmaceutical market: Facts and Figures 2021” New challenges and opportunities in the Health sector in the post Covid era

Press Release SFEE – IOBE & Presentation of the report


Athens, June 23, 2022. – The Economic and Industrial Research Foundation (IOBE) in cooperation with the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SfEE), presented today at a Press Conference the publication “The Pharmaceutical Market in Greece: Facts and Data 2021”, as well as the basic conclusions of the study: “The contribution of the Pharma sector in Greek economy”.

In the annual report “The Pharmaceutical Market in Greece: Facts and Figures 2021” there is a presentation of the basic structural elements, the developments and trends in Greece and Europe, in the field of medication and the broader Health ecosystem. Besides the representation of the relative quantitative data, great emphasis is placed on the current challenges faced by the sector, as well as the perspectives shaped in it, after a two-year pandemic crisis.

The 2021 report captures vividly the impact of the pandemic on the various facets of the ecosystem in the Greeks’ health, as well as those on the economy. There have been decisive interventions from the side of the Greek government and the European Commission through the implementation of fiscal measures aiming at dealing with the impacts, while the European Central Bank (ECB) proceeded in adopting extraordinary measures aiming at boosting liquidity.  Nevertheless, a new and escalating crisis in the energy sector has broken since mid-2021, accompanied by an abrupt rise in costs that pushed inflation high, without most countries having yet had the time to deal with and mitigate the repercussions of the pandemic.

Parallel to that, the demographics continue affecting the developments and constitute the primary regulator for the funding policies of the health and medication expenditure. The high life expectancy in particular (81.2 years, higher than the EU27 average), the negative sign in physical change (births-deaths, population reduction by 46 thousand people) which will eventually lead to a gradual shrinkage of the total population and the increase of the older population (above 65 years of age) from 22.9% of the total population in 2022 to 33.5% in 2060, predict higher pressure exerted on the health system.

In the field of pharmaceutical expenditure, the outpatient pharmaceutical expenditure rose at €4.0billions in 2021 (of which only €2,00billions is public funding). With patients’ contribution remaining stable and definitely not shrinking, to burden is shifted to the pharmaceutical sector, through the compulsory refunds and rebates (clawback & rebates) it pays. It is worth mentioning that the pharmaceutical industry continues covering the patients’ needs in medication, through compulsory refunds, eventually giving away 1 out of 2 medicines (50%).

It is clear that the increasing need in health care makes it imperative for a greater public funding of the expenses in health and pharmaceutical coverage, with the participation of the private sector not being able to be considered as a sustainable solution.

As it has already been pointed out by previous IOBE interventions (IOBE: Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research), the Pharma industry is an extremely important sector for Greek economy. With regard to investments, Research & Development (R&D) expenditure constitute 7% of the overall R&D expenditure in Greece, while 3,499 clinical trials, regardless of phase or stage – (2,000 fully completed) – were effected in Greece during the period 2002-2021. On the other hand, domestic medicinal products manufacturing rose at a value (ex-factory) of €1.7bil. in 2020 and with an added value of €1.4bil. it represents 6.9% of manufacturing. The workforce employed in the domestic pharmaceutical products and preparations manufacturing amounted to 25.1 thousand people in 2021, half of them being university degree holders. Equally important is the role of the pharmaceutical sector in the overall external trade, since pharmaceutical product exports amounted to €2.9bil. in 2021, representing 7.3% of the total Greek commodities exports in the same year.

According to recent IOBE estimates regarding the financial footprint of the pharma industry on Greek economy, its total contribution in GDP terms is estimated at €5.5 bil. (3.3% of GDP). Thus, for every €1 of added value by the companies active in the pharma sector, another €2.2 is generated on the Greek economy as a whole. In employment terms, the overall contribution is estimated at 123 thousand jobs (3.3% of total employment). In other words, each job in the pharma sector supports another 3 equivalent full-time jobs in the Greek economy as a whole. Finally, the estimated impact of the pharma industry on the tax revenues is approximately €5.1billions.

In his speech, the President of SfEE, Mr. Olympios Papadimitriou, pointed out: “The footprint of the pharmaceutical industry is very strong on health, society and economy alike. Nevertheless, public pharmaceutical funding has been bounded by non-realistic NRGs all these last years, while the State is not interested at all in the quality (medication mix) and quantity of the medicines consumed. The tax collection measures imposed – and unfortunately still newly introduced – impede healthy entrepreneurship and constitute a direct threat to Public Health. The State must review the funding of the system. Besides, all Governments in the world review their funds allocated to Public Health, following the COVID-19 pandemic. Better health leads to prosperity. Healthier people enjoy a longer and more productive professional life, they contribute to economy, and they absorb less health care expenditures”.

What SFEE proposes:

  1. Reforms – Digitisation: Adoption of the tools needed for the system transformation – i.e., the use of digital tools that may help in monitoring prescriptions through the right implementation of protocols, the patient’s digital file, e-prescription for Hospitals, e-procurement development.
  2. Increase of available resources. Health should concentrate over the next years significantly higher resources, so as to offer to citizens what is expected in a well-governed social welfare state. Public pharmaceutical expenditure, in particular, should be readjusted in a rational framework, given that is stagnated at the same level, more or less, for more than 8 years. Special care should be taken for the uninsured people, who should be covered by the Social Welfare funds. Additionally, new funds should be earmarked for the new innovative products currently in the pipeline, because Greek patients must have guaranteed access to innovation.

All the above, reforms, digitisation and resources rise, will lead to an actual clawback shrinkage, will contribute to a sustainable public health system with upgraded care offered to the citizens and will increase the potential and capacity of pharma companies to invest. This way our sector will be able to offer even more to Greek society, public health and economy, through the creation of jobs and the investments in R&D and production”.


See the presentation of the report

See the full version of the report

Watch the Press Conference


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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