Brazilian Pharma: Market Outperforming LatAm, Vaccine Developments, Bolsonaro’s Political Standing

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The Brazilian pharma market outperformed the Latin American average in Q1 of 2020 with a growth of 8.2 percent in real terms (inflation adjusted), according to IQVIA. Its size reached USD 21.8 billion, with almost two thirds coming from retail.

The overall LatAm pharma market grew 6 percent in average during that timeframe and reached USD 52.3 billion. Brazil was only outperformed by Argentina (+11.2 percent) but grew significantly more than the region’s second largest market, Mexico (+6 percent).

Historically, the pharma sector has consistently outperformed the growth of the economy. In the last five years, the Brazilian pharmaceutical market has reported an average annual increase of 8 percent, above the rate of the country’s GDP growth.

According to ratings agency Fitch Ratings, “the higher incidence of chronic diseases and the need to invest in new treatments will continue to boost consumption of medicines in the future. Innovation in the oncology segment should contribute to growing cash flow in the medium term. Longer term, increased competition and the maturing of patents may generate some price pressures, as it occurs with generic drugs.”

 

The latest

Pfizer applied for full regulatory approval in Brazil of its COVID-19 vaccine, Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said last Saturday. It is the second vaccine submitted for registration in the South American nation after AstraZeneca applied on January 29.

The same day as the Pfizer application announcement, the Fiocruz biomedical center received a shipment from China containing active ingredients to fill and finish 2.8 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

The country is diversifying its inoculation strategy and has continued to look beyond Pfizer and AstraZeneca, seek vaccines from China and Russia.

Last Thursday, the governor of Sao Paulo announced that the country is in talks to buy an additional 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech. In addition, Brazilian drug maker União Química recently told Reuters that it expects to have regulatory approval and a government contract soon for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

 

Political context

President Jair Bolsonaro ended the month of January with bad news as Brazilian protesters took to the streets to call for his impeachment as the administration faces criticism over a slow coronavirus vaccination roll-out and a surging death toll from the pandemic.

The South American nation has seen the second deadliest coronavirus outbreak with over 230,000 reported deaths and ranks third worldwide in confirmed cases. A recent poll by Datafolha showed that his support fell sharply, with his administration rated as “bad” or “terrible” by 40 percent of respondents; however, a second poll found that a majority of Brazilians are against his impeachment.

Adding to that, Bolsonaro faces legal jeopardy after it was reported that Brazil’s prosecutor-general opened a preliminary investigation into the president and health minister for possible negligence in response to a COVID-19 outbreak in Manaus city.

On the other hand, on February 2nd, the country’s Congress elected two Bolsonaro allies to head the Senate and lower house, an important victory for the far-right leader as he seeks to re-galvanize his reelection efforts for 2022. The new Senate leader, Rodrigo Pacheco, said last week he aims to approve tax reform in six to eight months and that Congress is working to extend aid to millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, a move that President Bolsonaro said will take into account investor concerns over the government’s fragile finances.

Moreover, the administration received a clear message from President Biden after the White House said it aims to strengthen ties with Brazil but will speak out on concerns.


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