04 Aug 2022

Investing in the pharmaceutical sector – Serbia

As part of our series on investment opportunities in Serbia, this time we delve into the pharmaceutical industry.  The coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that Serbia has significant potential in the sector that is still running strong.  Unlike other industries, the pharmaceutical industry has been showing unprecedented growth.

The high demand for medicines, supplements, basic hygiene products and disinfectants, and other medications has shown that there is a strong need for businesses and institutions that will meet this demand.  In that sense, Serbia’s pharmaceutical industry showed high efficiency and managed to establish and maintain regular supply, stable production, and unhindered imports as well as exports of medicines during the pandemic.  This is in part thanks to a favorable domestic legislation that is accommodative of a wide range of business opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry and beyond.  Bilateral investment treaties concluded between Serbia and numerous countries across the globe can significantly help investors in this sector of the economy in dealing with Serbian authorities and achieving results in the EU and other regional and global markets.

In that sense, special attention must be drawn to Serbia’s relations with the United States, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania, as well as the increasingly important cooperation with the countries of the Middle East in the field of pharmacy.

By establishing Bilateral investment treaties with countries mentioned above, foreign investors are provided with a fair and equal treatment, full protection and security of their investments, protection against unjustified and discriminatory measures, national treatment, and protection against expropriation.

Another aspect that makes the pharmaceutical industry in Serbia attractive for foreign investors is the high level of harmonization of the legislation of the Republic of Serbia with the EU.

Local legislation and great business opportunities

The internal market for medicines is very dynamic and offers a wide range of business opportunities.  Pharmaceutical products can be sold on the Serbian market by establishing a pharmacy, a private practice pharmacy, a health center pharmacy, and a hospital pharmacy.

Establishing a pharmacy is an opportunity that a wide range of individuals may take advantage of, including both graduate pharmacists and persons who do not have such qualifications.  Namely, pharmaceutical activities on the territory of the Republic of Serbia can be performed in pharmaceutical institutions, private practice pharmacies, pharmacies  within health care institutions, and hospitals.

Great opportunities for business in the pharmaceutical sector are evident at the very first step, when investors are considering opening a pharmacy in Serbia.  This is because the same opportunity is provided to a wide range of individuals, both qualified pharmacists and individuals who do not have such or similar qualifications. Namely, qualified pharmacists (including those unemployed and retired) may establish private practice pharmacies as sole proprietors, while for a pharmaceutical institution and any other other privately held health care institutions, specific professional and personal qualifications of the founder are not required.

According to the regulations of the Republic of Serbia, investors who decide to establish a health care institution, as well as private practice pharmacies, must meet requirements related to staff, premises, equipment, and products.  The procedure is initiated before the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, which may issue a permit for the establishment of a pharmacy in a relatively short period.  The pharmacy should subsequently be registered within the Business Registers Agency of the Republic of Serbia before it officially starts operating.

In the Republic of Serbia, besides the retail sales of pharmaceutical products and medical devices, a pharmacy may engage in the trade with other products aimed at preserving and improving overall health conditions, as well as other consumer products under the law.  The Ministry of Health provides a list of products that, in addition to medicines and medical supplies, may be sold in a pharmacy.


Serbia offers exceptional business opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector, which became especially apparent during the coronavirus pandemic.  This is certainly due to favorable bilateral agreements and domestic legislation. Several major investment projects in the field are underway which build confidence in strong growth in the sector. In addition, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce announced plans for significant expansion in the exports of pharmaceutical products made in Serbia, which should soon be available in the markets of the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa, another indication of great opportunities for pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The pharmaceutical industry was not the only one to show resilience during these challenging times. Other sectors, particularly construction industry and the real estate market, have been seeing a historical boom. Stay tuned discuss these further in our next article.


Authors: Jasmina Glavšić, Nemanja Sladaković, Marko Đorđević