Cuba is the largest medicine exporter in Latin America, with more than 50 client nations. The main markets for Cuba’s medicines are former Soviet states and third world countries. Cuban medicines are popular because they are cheaper than those produced in developed countries, though some cannot be sold in countries that respect patent laws.
In 1994, Cuba exported $110 million worth of medical supplies. In 1995, this figure rose to $125 million.
Cuban biotechnology researchers have been granted more than 100 patents, include 26 in the United States. In October 1999 SmithKline Beecham, announced details of an agreement to test and market a Cuban meningitis vaccine, first in Europe and eventually in the U.S. Cuban biotechnology research is responsible for drugs such as recombinant streptokinase, a "clot-buster" for heart attack victims produced at a fraction of the cost of similar medicines in developed countries.