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An emerging Asian market with a special relationship to the European Union and close ties with the Middle East, Turkey's strategic geopolitical position is a place where multinational players want to be. The pharmaceutical industry is no exception.
With a growing, aging population and a young, highly skilled workforce, Turkey's demographics are also a draw. Economically, the country boasts a GDP topping more than 8 percent in 2010 and 2011 and is weathering the global economic crisis better than many of its European neighbors.
Nonetheless, major national healthcare reforms, drastic price reductions, and market access delays have made Turkey's pharmaceutical market a particularly challenging place the past few years.
But with a new budget period beginning in 2013 and signs that the government may be looking to turn a corner, the industry is preparing for the day when Turkey becomes one of the next big pharma countries.
MAKING UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE A REALITY
First, the country's three social security schemes were united under the Social Security Institute (SGK). Then, in 2008, the Universal Health Insurance law was passed, aiming to make healthcare widely available. Finally, in 2010, the family practitioner system was implemented, providing low-cost care by local doctors to citizens across the country.
Ayşe Çetinel Sapmaz has been the managing director of Janssen, the pharmaceutical company of J&J, in Turkey for the past 11 years and witnessed the dramatic change in the country's healthcare system. "Access to healthcare has increased dramatically—and this is of course something that we view positively. People are no longer left waiting in queues; they have access to doctors, they have access to treatment. From a societal point of view, things are moving in the right direction," she said.
According to the SGK, expenditures on pharmaceuticals increased from TRY 7.8 billion (USD 2.3 billion) in 2004 to TRY 15.8 billion (USD 8.7 billion) in 2011.