December 2014

Vietnam: Market Access Tracker


Last Updated 8 December 2014
Historically, Vietnam has been one of the poorest countries in the world, but it has advanced to become classified as a lower-middle income country by the World Bank since 2010.  Vietnam is currently one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets in Southeast Asia, recording a growth rate of 16.6% in the 12-month period up to September 2013. Increasing affluence, a rapidly aging population, and the steady expansion of public health insurance are some of the main factors driving demand for pharmaceuticals. Vietnam has set an ambitious goal to achieve universal health coverage by 2015, since over 30% of the population is still not covered by any form of health insurance.  In addition, the country’s private health expenditures remain high, at about 57% of total healthcare expenditure, with the majority attributed to out-of-pocket spending.  The need for patients to pay out of pocket for drugs not reimbursed by the government highlights the lack of depth in coverage of healthcare services.  Vietnamese patients also face a burden from relatively high drug prices, due to limited domestic drug production and a lack of cost-containment measures.  The country’s difficulty in containing drug prices is exacerbated by a fragmented healthcare system, a decentralized drug procurement process, and a heavy dependence on imported medicines.  Foreign drug manufactures must contend with this regionally fragmented market, as well as weak intellectual property protection policies and a protracted regulatory environment for drug approval and distribution.  With a population that now exceeds 90 million, Vietnam is the third most populous country in Southeast Asia and remains an important emerging market for multinational drug manufacturers looking to expand in the region.


Socioeconomic trends: Gross domestic product (GDP); per capita gross national income (GNI).

Demographics: Overall population (projected to 2030); life expectancy at birth (projected to 2030); median age and number of senior citizens (projected to 2030); urban population (projected to 2030).

Healthcare system: Healthcare spending; National Health Insurance Program; healthcare funding; out-of-pocket expenditures, and providers.

Regulatory affairs: Registration process for new drugs; ASEAN regulatory harmonization; clinical trials in Vietnam.

Intellectual property protection: compulsory licensing; counterfeit drugs; Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

Health technology assessment: Roles and responsibilities of the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health Economics, as well as the Vietnam Health Economics Association. 

Pricing and reimbursement: National list of essential medicines; selection for pricing and reimbursement under public health insurance; role of the Drug Administration of Vietnam.

Cost containment: Competitive pharmaceutical tendering; parallel importation; case-mix payment mechanisms.

Healthcare reform: Universal healthcare coverage.

Commercialization Outlook: Healthcare infrastructure; infrequent updating of reimbursable drugs list; protracted approval process for imported drugs; high out-of-pocket spending; lack of medical personnel, transition toward capitation-based payment system; high penetration of counterfeit drugs.

Exhibits: 24 data-rich tables and figures.

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Mentioned in this report:

  • Organizations:
  • - Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN)
  • - Drug Administration of Vietnam
  • - General Statistical Office
  • - IMS Health
  • - International Monetary Fund
  • - Ministry of Health
  • - Ministry of Finance
  • - National Office of Intellectual Property
  • - Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • - Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • - United Nations Population Division
  • - Vietnam Health Economics Association
  • - Vietnam Social Security
  • - World Bank
  • - World Health Organization
  • - World Intellectual Property Organization
  • - World Trade Organization
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