This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
 201520162017 (estimated)2018 (estimated)
Total Market Size$220.3$214.1$209.6$217.98
Import from the U.S.$71.9$61.0$63.44$65.98
Source: Salvadoran Industry Association report based on data of the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador; statistics in millions of Note: No reliable source for local production. 2017/2018 projections are based on a growth rate of 4% per year.

U.S. dollars. Statistics based in the HTCs: 30022000, 30021090, 30023000, 30039012, 30049091, 30045010, 30042010, 30049092, 30041010, 30043910, 30043210, 30049011, 30059000, 30066000.
El Salvador is one of the leading producers of pharmaceuticals in Central America; with 33 pharmaceutical laboratories certified by the National Medicine Directorate (DNM). The DNM provides Good Manufacturing Practices Certificates to local laboratories based on the international quality standards established in the 32nd Report of the World Health Organization.

Current data shows the pharmaceutical market in El Salvador grew by 4.1% in 2015, and has had an average growth of 4.0% in the period 2010-2015 representing one the main industrial manufacturing sectors in the country. The products manufactured by the Salvadoran pharmaceutical industry are in the generic market and fall into five categories: (1) mixed or unmixed products, (2) vitamins (3) antibiotics (4) corticosteroids hormones (5) veterinarian medicine.

The regulatory entity in El Salvador is the National Medicine Directorate (DNM), which is responsible to oversee the analysis, surveillance, and quality control of medicines, certification of pharmaceutical laboratories, registration of products, and setting the maximum price limits on drug prices. The list of maximum prices, authorized over the counter products, and controlled substances is available at the DNM website.

The largest single buyer of pharmaceutical products in El Salvador is the public sector, including the Ministry of Health and the Salvadoran Social Security Institute. According to the Chemical Pharmaceutical Industry Association of El Salvador (INQUIFAR), these purchases are mainly of imported products.  According to this association, El Salvador imported $352 million in 2016, an increase of 2.4% compared to the previous year. El Salvador imports products from 71 countries; from which the U.S. has the largest market share ($61 million), followed by Mexico, Panama, and Germany. Products coming from China and India are increasing their presence in the market. As for Salvadoran pharmaceutical exports, the main recipients are countries in the Central America region. Exports to the U.S. represent an estimated 3.1 percent.

U.S. companies interested in entering the Salvadoran market need a local legal and pharmacist representatives in order to do business in the country. The National Medicine Directorate is responsible for product registration which is granted to a product only for 5 year term and may represent a challenge to U.S. companies. Other important challenges facing the pharmaceutical sector in El Salvador are the high cost of pharmaceuticals, price control, and data protection.

Vijosa S.A. de C.V. is the largest pharmaceutical company in El Salvador; they produce injectables, tablets, capsules, liquid packs, syrups and eye drops.  Other key companies in the market are: Corporación Bonima, S.A. de C.V., Grupo Paill, S.A. de C.V., BIOGALENIC, S.A. de C.V., Laboratorios Arsal, S.A. de C.V., Establecimientos Ancalmo,S.A. de C.V., ACTIVA, S.A. de C.V. ,Laboratorios López, S.A. de C.V., Laboratorios Teramed, S.A. de C.V., and Laboratorios Suizos, S.A. de C.V. Currently, there is no manufacturing capability of gel caps in El Salvador.
Best prospects:
  • Anesthesiology products
  • Antibiotics
  • Vitamins
  • Gauze, bandages and similar articles
  • Medicaments containing corticosteroid hormones, their derivatives
  • Medicaments for therapeutic or prophylactic use
  • Raw material of active principles and excipients
  • PET and aluminum coils
  • Primary packaging
  • Gel caps
Pharmaceuticals that treat cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes are in demand in the Salvadoran market as these are the leading causes of death in the country. In addition, food supplements represent a potential opportunity for U.S. companies.  In recent years, local laboratories have looked into manufacturing their products in the United States. U.S. exporters offering private label and are in compliance with FDA regulations and certifications may want to explore opportunities in this area.
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Lidia Sosa, Commercial Specialist:

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El Salvador Biopharmaceuticals