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Costa Rica

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Costa Rica houses some of the world’s best-known pharmaceutical companies. 

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Pharmaceutical Industry Overview

Costa Rica’s Story

Companies involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing in Costa Rica employ approximately 3,500 direct labor employees.  Of the 6,300 pharmaceutical items that are registered in the country, 1,400 are produced locally.  One percent of these products represent diagnostic reagents and vaccines, forty-three percent are made up of antiserums, and fifty-six percent of pharmaceutical manufacturing in Costa Rica consists of the production of prescription drugs. 

Some of the multi-national companies that participate in the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in Costa Rica include:

  • Aspen Pharma
  • AstraZeneca
  • Baxter
  • Bayer
  • Merck
  • Pfizer
  • Roche

Success stories that stand out for international firms involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing in Costa Rica include Roche and Merck. 

Roche is headquartered in Basel. Switzerland and has had operations in Costa Rica since 1973.  The company has long been at the forefront of cancer research and treatment and has created medicines for breast, skin, colon, ovarian, lung, and other cancers.  Roche is a leader in tissue-based cancer and diagnostics, diabetes management, and in-vitro diagnostics.  The company has also developed breakthrough treatments in ophthalmology and neuroscience. 

In 2015, Roche made a US $5.5 million investment in the construction of a more than 50,000 square foot distribution facility in Costa Rica to serve export markets in 23 countries and the Caribbean.  The company expects to increase its exports from the pharmaceutical industry in Costa Rica by 50% over the next five years.

Also, successful in the pharmaceutical industry in Costa Rica has been Merck.  The company is headquartered in Kenilworth, New Jersey, and has been providing service to Central America since 1991 through its Global Clinical Trial Division.  The Merck team in Costa Rica is in charge of clinical trial training which supports the Americas.

Companies comprised of national capital also play a leading role in pharmaceutical manufacturing in Costa Rica.  Prominent among these firms are Gutis and Speratum.

Gutis has been operating world-class facilities in Costa Rica since 1973.  It employs 350 individuals in the pharmaceutical industry in Costa Rica, and an additional 150 at installations in Guatemala, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. 

Gutis manufactures bioequivalent pharmaceutical products, as well as offers contract manufacturing services to other companies in the pharmaceutical industry in Costa Rica.  The company manufactures both private label and generic pharmaceuticals.

The company also has R&D facilities in Costa Rica that include:

  • design space ICH Q8;
  • validated analytical methods;
  • dissolution profiles;
  • stability ICH Q1;
  • bioavailability;
  • bioequivalence;
  • clinical trials.

Among the organizations with whom the Gutis quality system is in compliance with includes the FDA, the European Medicine Agency, and the World Health Organization.

Another Costa Rican national firm, Speratum, is a cancer therapy company that uses proprietary miRNA therapeutics and nanotechnology-based delivery systems to target networks of biomarkers responsible for advanced cancer aggressiveness.

Companies that are seeking to open up facilities in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Costa Rica, should contact the Central American Group by filling in the form that is provided below.  


Pharmaceutical Industry  Outlook

According to Costa Rica’s General Directorate of Taxation, the number of manufacturers of pharmaceutical products, chemical substances, and botanical products grew from 30 in 2012 to 42 in 2016.

Companies that are in Costa Rica’s pharmaceutical sector manufacture a wide variety of products.  These products come in many forms.  Among them are capsules, creams and ointments, injectables, solid and semi-solid tablets, suppositories and liquids.

Costa Rican exports of medicine for human use increased from 4,758 tons in 2012 to 4,695 tons in 2916, representing a fall of 1%.  However, the value of exports over this period of time increased by 97%


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