Strong growth was seen in consumer health in 2022 despite various challenges such as flagging consumer confidence in the for-profit health system, disorganised distribution that results in suboptimal levels of development in many categories and inconsistent supply, with some categories flooded with a confusing array of products. In addition, harsh and uncertain economic conditions have put pressure on consumer spending, with currency devaluation making imported products particularly expensive.
The positive sales growth recorded in consumer health in Iraq during 2022 masks deep and potentially serious issues that point to the market not being as healthy as the positive growth rates would suggest. The transition of the Iraqi health system from a completely publicly-funded non-profit sector to a private profit-driven industry has combined with substantial increases in health awareness to fuel a shift in the market towards higher consumption of a wider variety of OTC consumer products.
Despite recent changes in the Iraqi healthcare sector, the country’s consumer health market is still highly doctor centred. However, there has been a major shift in that the opinions of consumers about doctors and the healthcare system are definitely changing.
Consumer attitudes towards many consumer health products have changed drastically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially vitamins and dietary supplements, with substantial sales increases registered in the category during 2020, 2021 and 2022. However, as the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, consumers are less interested in regularly consuming vitamins and dietary supplements as they once were.
Pharmacies remains the dominant distribution channel for consumer health in Iraq and there are large numbers of these outlets in all towns and cities. These outlets are frequented by consumers of all income levels and they tend to offer a wide range of products ranging from economy domestic brands and generic products imported from countries with lower manufacturing costs through to higher-priced European products and premium brands.
OTC registration procedures are complex and costly in Iraq. Foreign producers cannot register products in the country unless they have an Iraqi agent registered with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Trade and the local chamber of commerce.
Regulations for vitamins and dietary supplements vary. Water-soluble products tend to be largely unregulated but lipid-soluble products and those with potential side effects are classified as prescription only.
Iraq’s consumer health history is expected to continue recording positive growth during the forecast period, with population growth and spreading affluence due to the buoyant global oil price and greater peace and stability throughout the country set to underpin a favourable performance across all areas of consumer health. The essential nature of many OTC medicines and the fact that significant numbers of consumers depend on a wide range of consumer products is expected to prove crucial as high inflation erodes consumer purchasing power, forcing many less affluent consumers to focus their spending on essential categories.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Consumer Health industry in Iraq with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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Data and analysis in this report provides further detailed coverage dedicated to the following key categories, where applicable:
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It is the aggregation of OTC, Vitamins and Dietary Supplements (VDS), Sports Nutrition, and Weight Management and WellbeingSee All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Consumer Health research and analysis database.
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