Previously considered a low-priced “commodity”, Paracetamol goes on an unprecedented price rally

4 May 2021, Munich In 2020, prices for paracetamol increased for two main reasons – trade restrictions such as factory shutdowns  and export restrictions (see QYOBO article) and a spike in demand as the drug was considered the most effective analgesics treatment for CoViD-19 infections. Towards the end of 2020, an incident at one of the few remaining manufacturing sites of 4-aminophenol, a paracetamol intermediate (also known as key starting material or KSM) occurred ¹, further adding to the already prevailing tensions in the market.

At the end of the first quarter of 2020, prices for paracetamol and 4-aminophenol started to rise considerably, as the first wave of the CoViD-19 pandemic started to gain momentum. This rapid increase continued until the beginning of the second half of the year resulting in a  31.7% boost of paracetamol prices and a 27.9% boost of 4-aminophenol prices (vs. to January 2020). Prices stagnated throughout  the remainder of 2020, until both substances experienced another rapid price increase in the first three months of 2021 with +21.3% (paracetamol) and +50.9% (4-aminophenol) respectively. This recent increase is all the more interesting as the price difference between paracetamol and 4-aminophenol (which directly relates to the margin of paracetamol API suppliers) remained fairly constant during the entire period 2020-2021 – from 1.55 USD/kg to 1.90 USD/kg, (see figure 1). Analyzing the Paracetamol price curve in Q1/2021, one might assume that the slight recovery in March 2021 will continue – the price difference of 0.95 USD/kg however suggests otherwise as Paracetamol margins are getting squeezed and manufacturers will likely pass these on to their buyers in the weeks to come.

Taking a closer look at the price distribution for paracetamol, the spread between minimum and maximum prices also increased significantly in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. Surging from 0.88 USD/kg at the beginning of 2020 to 1.59 USD/kg paracetamol price spread almost doubled in 2021 (see figure 2).


 Active pharmaceutical ingredient                       

 Key starting materials


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For further information please contact:

Ms. Thuy Linh Nguyen, Corporate Communications


Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used for medication purposes. Please do not self-medicate and consult a physician/doctor for any questions with regard to your personal medical needs. This assessment has been prepared adhering to the highest quality standards based on a variety of external data sources (see sources) with the purpose of making distributed information accessible to a broader audience. The information contained in this document is provided on an “as is” basis and QYOBO GmbH assumes no responsibility or liability for the completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness of the information provided. This article contains links to external websites operated by third parties upon which QYOBO GmbH has no influence. QYOBO GmbH does not assume any guarantee or liability for third party content.

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