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Newsletter February 2010


Life Sciences—A Key Priority

The market technologies of tomorrow are being developed in laboratories throughout the world today. In Greece, scientists and entrepreneurs are pursuing a wide range of new, marketable products and services that are set to be embraced by companies and consumers in a wide range of disciplines. A key area in Greece today is the Life Sciences sector, in which start-up and spin-off companies are working side by side with established players in the development of new, innovative  technologies.

Greece’s Life Sciences industry has been rapidly developing for a number of years with the support and cooperation of the country’s well-established R&D infrastructure.

Research institutes and university research groups form a solid foundation in the pursuit of new technologies and innovative solutions. A history of EU and international collaborations in both the private and public sector has provided valuable expertise to Greece’s scientists and engineers who are now encouraged to apply a market oriented approach to research.

Medicinal products in Greece are well established. Total pharmaceutical spending in Greece, as a proxy for Biotech spending, has grown at an annual pace of 17.5% from 2000 to 2007, and the total annual healthcare expenditure in Greece from 2000 to 2006 has been growing at 11%. Greece boasts 10,000 pharmacies, the largest number per capita in Europe, equaling 94.2 pharmacies per 100,000 inhabitants. More than 300 pharmaceutical companies operate in the country and there are more than 130 wholesale enterprises.

The strong growth in pharma spending in Greece is supported by the social security safety net, through which most pharma expenditures are reimbursed by the Greek state. The Greek state pharma expenditure covered 90% of the total pharma expenditure in 2006. The growth in pharma expenditure is estimated to continue as Greece’s population ages, smoking rate remains high, obesity rises, and sedentary lifestyles take hold.

Despite the fact that Greece is a net importer of pharmaceuticals, domestic production of medicines has grown by 11.1% annually from 2000 to 2007. Furthermore, Greece’s highly effective drug management system has reduced counterfeit medicines to a minimum compared with other European Union countries.

Healthcare services have also been growing strongly. Private hospitals have increased their market share and the demand for privately funded health care is proving strong. Greek private hospitals are expanding into neighbouring Southeast European countries, creating a strong brand image and credibility for Greek healthcare. 

Analysts believe that Greece could become an attractive “health tourism” destination, providing high quality healthcare services at competitive rates.

Regional Hub for Clinical Trials
Greece has established itself as a regional hub for clinical trials. Approximately 300 protocols are approved each year, with roughly 700 state university and research institutions overseeing these protocols. The average cost per clinical trial per patient stands between €2,000 - €3,000

Concrete Investment Opportunities
Greece offers a unique investment opportunity to international pharma companies to enhance and support their main growth driver: the development of new medicines. With an exceptional talent pool at very competitive rates, top universities and research facilities to conduct R&D, and a competitive overhead structure, Greece is an ideal location for a research team developing and testing a new medicine or for developing medical and diagnostic devices.

Establishing regional headquarters in Greece for the Southeast Europe, Middle East or North Africa region allows companies to tap into highly educated, strongly motivated human capital with strong multinational corporate ethics.