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Serbia bears plenty of opportunities

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The Serbian pharmaceutical market, which technically contracted following the June 2006 dissolution of the State of Union of Serbia and Montenegro, remains the least developed in Central and Eastern Europe, experts suggest. However, the country’s desire to become a member of the EU will in the longer term boost opportunities for both foreign and domestic stakeholders. In the shorter term, a difficult pricing, reimbursement and intellectual property (IP) environment will continue to conspire to hamper market access and development. In the meantime, the medical devices market in Serbia will be improved by planned reforms of healthcare provision.

While the financing of public-sector modernisation remains questionable, the growing number of private laboratories and the public dissatisfaction with national healthcare services will stimulate the demand for new and modern medical equipment. Foreign companies will reap the benefits of this trend, given that over 90 percent of the demand is met by imports. In regional terms, the new Business Environment Rankings table for the first quarter of the year finds Serbia last out of the 16 CEE states surveyed. The operating environment is deficient from the point of view of regulatory infrastructure, preferential treatment for the domestic industry and the existence of a sizeable counterfeit industry. In addition, the unstable political climate and widespread corruption also hamper multinational activities. It was noted that local producers led by three key companies will continue to meet around 60 percent of the country’s demand for pharmaceuticals, with consolidation in the sector expected to continue, under pressure to meet the 2009 Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) deadline.

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