Although it is generally agreed that the pharmaceutical industry is in a state of rapid internationalization, there is no clear comprehensive explanation of the current state and effectiveness of an international strategy. There are many studies about internationalization but they neither focus on the pharmaceutical industry nor evaluate the effectiveness of an international strategy with a control. Therefore, we investigate the current state of internationalization with a sample of the 30 multinational pharmaceutical companies, as well as the effectiveness of an international strategy by comparing two international strategies. In this study, we define an international strategy as a strategy that controls the geographic distribution of sales across regions to maximize total sales. The results show that 33% of the companies are still home-region-oriented, and we did not find any evidence of the effectiveness of an international strategy that pursues a balanced geographic distribution across regions in terms of total sales and adjusted total sales. The results provide the practical implication that pharmaceutical companies should weigh up the specific markets to secure higher sales through the advantage of adapting to customers’ needs. This paper contributes to the research on sustainable growth by empirically providing results of comparisons of different international strategies in the pharmaceutical industry.
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