Tunisia: Foreign Pharma Firms Exit, Drug Prices Rise as Industry Struggles

by | May 3, 2024 | Economic, Political, Social, Tunisia


On 29 April 2024, the head of the National Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Tarek Hammami confirmed that three foreign pharmaceutical producers plan to close their representative offices in Tunis due to challenges related to the indebtedness of the Central Pharmacy and difficulties in getting new drugs to market. 

Hammami indicated that medicine shortages in Tunisia are largely due to the inability of producers to collect debts from the Central Pharmacy which centrally manages and distributes medicines across Tunisia. Hammami reported that the Central Pharmacy currently has 700 million dinars in unpaid debts to drug suppliers. 

Hammami asserted that domestic drug production covers 78% of Tunisia’s drug needs, with the remaining drugs largely comprised of more advanced, “biological” drugs that treat more serious illnesses such as cancer. 

Hammami also reported that certain drugs priced at under 10 TND would see price increases of between 300 millemes and 2 TND. He noted that the price increases are part of an effort to move the industry toward profitability. 

Meanwhile, Stiplastics Group Holding (SGH), a French firm, announced plans to open a pharmaceutical device and plastic consumables production facility in Tunisia with an investment of 1 million. The 3000 m2 facility should be operational in September 2024. 


As the Tunisian government struggles under the weight of its financial obligations, such tensions are likely to continue to emerge, particularly with foreign firms, as state-run enterprises struggle to make payments on goods and services. 

The pharmaceutical sector in Tunisia has long been plagued by its centralized management and the heavy subsidies that force the government to bear significant costs to keep the drugs at a price Tunisians consider accessible. 

Similar challenges remain in other industries as well, including the extractives sector, where state-run firms have proven challenging to partner with for foreign investors.  

While some in the pharmaceutical sector have called for reform, such steps are unlikely to happen in the near-term as Tunisian consumers are likely unwilling to accept the competitive costs of the drugs that they are accustomed to purchasing at artificially low prices .


Explore our services or speak with our team of North Africa-based risk experts.