Latin America: Still Looking for the Light at the End of the Tunnel

It’s been an eventful year for a number of Latin American countries. There has been a lot of upheaval with various presidents, which has had a significant impact on the economies of Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina in particular. Let’s take a look at where things stand.

The situation in Venezuela hasn’t improved since we checked in well over a year ago. Shortages of medicine, devices, electricity, and physicians have sustained the crisis in health care. A state of emergency was declared earlier this year, and despite the bleak outlook and the threat of expulsion from Mercosur, President Maduro refuses to accept humanitarian aid for Venezuela.

Significant concerns surrounded Zika, the Olympics, and the impeachment of President Rousseff in Brazil this summer, and the economy is ultimately anticipated to contract this year. However, early estimations indicate that the country’s economy may finally see some positive movement in the near future as new financial initiatives are explored, confidence gradually returns, and business investment rises. The future for Brazil is still extremely uncertain, but the somewhat more positive tone of recent news and forecasts is a welcome change.

Recovery in Argentina has yet to be realized despite the initial optimism surrounding the election of President Macri last year; the new president has been unable to lower inflation to a reasonable level, and the economy continues to contract.  Although the country returned to the global bond market this year and some MNCs are already pursuing investments in various industries in the country, the long-term trajectory of Argentina’s economy remains a big question mark.

So, what does all this mean for the medtech markets? Growth forecasts across our markets were cut when the widespread economic issues in Latin America first emerged, and cost consciousness has remained a key theme with limitations on both government spending and personal disposable incomes. Disparities in accessibility and long wait times remain issues. Newer and highly technical procedures continue to be limited by a lack of physicians and surgeons able to perform them compared to other regions. Weak local currencies have been problematic because the cost of imported devices in some countries has gone up but reimbursement often has not.

All of these issues limit the Latin American market now. However, because they have ultimately led to underpenetrated markets, it should be noted that these countries would represent significant growth opportunities should they actually realize economic recovery.

Want to learn more about the Latin American medtech markets? Be sure to check out DRG’s Latin America reports. To learn how you can get up to 50% off this and any of our other complete MedTech 360 Therapy Area Report bundles, click here. Seize this opportunity to see the opportunities.