European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies

In comparison to parallel trade in other goods, the overall level of parallel trade in medicines is low. Various estimates by independent economic consultants on the share of the prescription pharmaceutical market in the EU taken by parallel-traded products from 1990-2000 put it at 2%, with a peak of 4% in 2002.

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Parallel trade started out as a simple south-north process - this is no longer the case. Almost all EEA countries are involved, either as the source of the medicine or the destination. Many countries act simultaneously, with various medicines, as both source and destination. This is because prices have become relatively fluid - some prices in a 'low-price' country are higher than those for the same product in a 'high-price' country.

The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany have the longest exposure to parallel trade. More recently, Denmark, other Nordic countries and Ireland have seen more parallel-traded products appearing. And this is also now the case in Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

There are some countries which still have barriers to incoming parallel trade, notably France.

Share of Parallel Trade in Pharmacy Market Sales 2002

Country% share
Denmark 12.2
Germany 7.1
Netherlands 10.5
Norway (share of total market) 6.3
Sweden 10.2
United Kingdom 17.6


Source: EFPIA