With the allure of EU accession and an aggressive commitment to making local firms globally competitive, Turkey for the past decade has been a totemic symbol of the promise—and pitfalls—of the emerging markets. A growing middle class with health purchasing power has led to more opportunities for foreign innovative drug makers, but there is a down side too, in the form of interventionist trade and regulatory practices as well as a subtle trend toward xenophobia as the prospects for Turkish membership in the European Union fades. What's next? A new attitude more open to the industry's potential, if the right policies are followed.
The boom times also saw an unprecedented series of government reforms—including the introduction of a universal health insurance scheme—that reshaped Turkey's healthcare markets. The number of people covered by the public insurance system grew from 50 percent in 2000 to 86 percent in 2011, with the goal to hit 100 percent last year. Consumption soared: physician visits per capita increased from three visits in 2002 to eight in 2011, leading to increased satisfaction with the health service, which posted an 81 percent favorable rating in 2011. From 2003 to 2011, average life expectancy in Turkey increased by 2.5 years, from just under 72 to over 74 years.