The wholesale distribution of drugs occupies a central place in Benin due to almost nonexistent production. The public sector is made up of a single actor, born out of the bankruptcy of State-owned companies, which in June 2020 reverted to being a State-owned company after changing legal status several times. This actor, invested with a public service mission, has rapidly developed and fairly efficiently distributes essential generic drugs, vaccines, and medical consumables to all health system actors and does so for its own benefit as well as on behalf of the State and players in Global Health.

The private sector, which began to develop seriously in the early 1980s, is often shaken by economic conflicts against a backdrop of nationalism. These recurring conflicts do not, however, prevent the five wholesaler-distributors from ensuring the supply of pharmacies and developing their market share through various strategies.

Wholesale distribution had remained in the hands of essentially private actors since the 1980s, but beginning in 2016 has witnessed a return of the State, manifested by a profound restructuring of the entire pharmaceutical sector and echoing the situations observed in other francophone countries in West Africa.