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Drugs and Pharmaceuticals





(Jan-Sept only)

2011 (est.)

Total Market Size




Total Local Production




Total Exports




Total Imports




Imports from the U.S.




In USD Millions. Source: The above statistics are unofficial estimates based on Kazakhstan customs data and industry sources.

In 2010, the government approved a draft program for the development of the pharmaceutical industry for 2010-2014. According to the program, the government’s priority task is to supply 50% of the market with locally produced medicines and healthcare products by 2014. To meet this goal, modernization of the existing and construction of new pharmaceutical production facilities are planned.

In 2010, Kazakhstan joined the Customs Union (CU) with Russia and Belarus. Entrance to the Union has not yet affected the pharmaceutical market as Customs fees for imported pharmaceuticals from CU member countries and third countries will be still zero. However, as of 2014, customs fees for pharmaceutical imports from third countries will be increased first to 5% and then in 2015 to 10%. It is assumed that during these years local production will increase and new production lines adhering to international standards will be developed. This local production would help Kazakhstan’s pharmaceutical industry to compete with imported producers not necessarily in the modern, hi-tech segment but in a wide niche of generics which account for 85% of the market.

There is not accurate 2010 data for funds allocated from State and local budgets for the purchase of pharmaceutical products. Based on figures from previous years, this amount accounts for approximately 50-60% of the total market. Local production is relatively insignificant, accounting for only 10-15% of the market. Local manufacturers produce basic pharmaceutical products that do not require innovative technologies. Market demand for specific complex pharmaceuticals is met entirely by imports.

All imported and locally produced pharmaceutical products must be registered in Kazakhstan. The agency responsible for registration is the Committee for Pharmacy under the Ministry of Health. The National Center of Expertise under the Ministry of Health overseas the approval process for all pharmaceutical products to be registered. This process includes a number of physiochemical, biological and clinical tests, which verify efficiency, safety and quality of imported pharmaceuticals. Depending on the type of drug, a registration payment varies from $3,000 to $5,000. Generally, a manufacturer pays the registration fee.

From 2009 to 2010, the market for pharmaceuticals in Kazakhstan increased by an estimated 20%. The U.S. market share was approximately 4% last year, valued at almost $27.5 million. Pharmaceutical imports in 2011 are expected to increase again by about 10%, reaching an estimated $913 million. Likewise, U.S. imports are predicted to increase slightly to an estimated $29 million, with market share remaining at 4%. Local production of pharmaceuticals in 2011 will account for only 13.4% of the total market.

Best Products/Services

The pharmaceutical market is divided almost equally into two major segments: State procurement and retail sales.

State Procurement

State procurement of pharmaceuticals is implemented through tenders announced by regional and city health departments. State procurement of oncology and diabetic medicines is funded by a State-financed program. The existing model of procurement is highly decentralized with about twenty distributers supplying hospitals with medicines. This has resulted in an increase of logistics expenses, interrupted supply and unjustified prices for pharmaceuticals. In 2009, the Ministry of Health set up SK-Pharmatsiya LLP as a single distributor for supplying pharmaceuticals to State health institutions. The share of pharmaceuticals bought through the single distributor system will gradually increase, reaching 70-80% by 2012. The remaining 20-30% of pharmaceuticals with a low consumption level will be directly purchased by hospitals. It is planned that the single distributor will buy pharmaceuticals in the amount of $270 million in 2011.

U.S. companies producing the following pharmaceutical products have strong prospects:

  • Vaccines and other immuno-biological medications for immuno-prophylaxis of population;
  • Anti-tuberculosis medications;
  • Anti-diabetic medications;
  • Oncology medications;
  • Antibacterial medications;
  • Medications and dialyzers, and medical supplies for patients with renal deficiency and patients operated on for kidney transplantation.

Generally, foreign suppliers participate in State-funded tenders through their local distributors.


Despite government attempts to improve and increase local production of pharmaceuticals, Kazakhstan is still attractive for U.S. exporters because, as already mentioned, production of highly efficient and innovative medicines is not considered a priority task in the local program. Severe diseases such as CVD, cancer and diabetes still require advanced pharmaceuticals.

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