The pharmaceutical market in Bulgaria is unique in the European Union. Its growth is declining, while the opposite should be the case. According to the agency German Trade and Invest (GTAI), it grew by 7.6 percent in 2015, while for 2016, an increase of approximately 6 percent was expected.
The alarming part is that there is a chronic undersupply of medication in Bulgaria. In the country, about 45 new medications are being introduced every year, but not all of them end up in Bulgarian pharmacies. Because of high revenues, part of them are being sold abroad and become parallel exports, according to GTAI, which said this was a big disadvantage for Bulgarian patients, including those suffering from cancer or other serious illnesses.
In Bulgaria, the number of pharmacies per capita is unusually high. At this stage, there are some 3,800 of them, or one per 2,000 inhabitants (2015). Their turnover is increasing slowly. And there is a strong tendency towards large pharmacy chains with 50 or more branches in Bulgaria, while independent pharmacies keep on disappearing.
The European Commission had recently released a report, according to which the Bulgarian health system has considerable weak spots. This includes an inadequate access to medical care, an underfunding and generally a weak performance, the Commission said. Bulgaria spends only 4.52 percent of its GDP on its health system (2013), which is far less than the E.U. average.