Availability, price and affordability of cardiovascular medicines: A comparison across 36 countries using WHO/HAI data

Faculty of Medicine, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
BMC Cardiovascular Disorders (Impact Factor: 1.88). 06/2010; 10(25):25. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2261-10-25
Source: PubMed


The global burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to rise. Successful treatment of CVD requires adequate pharmaceutical management. The aim was to examine the availability, pricing and affordability of cardiovascular medicines in developing countries using the standardized data collected according to the World Health Organization/Health Action International methodology.
The following medicines were included: atenolol, captopril, hydrochlorothiazide, losartan and nifedipine. Data from 36 countries were analyzed. Outcome measures were percentage availability, price ratios to international reference prices and number of day's wages needed by the lowest-paid unskilled government worker to purchase one month of chronic treatment. Patient prices were adjusted for inflation and purchasing power, procurement prices only for inflation. Data were analyzed for both generic and originator brand products and the public and private sector and summarized by World Bank Income Groups.
For all measures, there was great variability across surveys. The overall availability of cardiovascular medicines was poor (mean 26.3% in public sector, 57.3% private sector). Procurement prices were very competitive in some countries, whereas others consistently paid high prices. Patient prices were generally substantially higher than international references prices; some countries, however, performed well. Chronic treatment with anti-hypertensive medication cost more than one day's wages in many cases. In particular when monotherapy is insufficient, treatment became unaffordable.
The results of this study emphasize the need of focusing attention and financing on making chronic disease medicines accessible, in particular in the public sector. Several policy options are suggested to reach this goal.

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    • "Although further investigation is required to obtain a more in–depth understanding of the causes and consequences of medicine availability and pricing [28], our findings show that several policies are required to make medicines more affordable and available in Haiti. First, a comprehensive assessment of the supply chain should be undertaken to identify reasons for low availability as well as areas where regulation of the procurement chain are appropriate [9,28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and faces numerous challenges, including inadequate medication access for its residents. The objective of this study was to determine the availability, prices, and affordability of essential medicines in Haiti and compare these findings to other countries. We conducted a cross-sectional nationwide survey in 2011 of availability and consumer prices of 60 essential medicines in Haiti using a standardized methodology developed by the World Health Organization and Health Action International. The survey was conducted in 163 medicine outlets in four health care sectors (public, retail, nonprofit and mixed sectors). Medicine prices were expressed as ratios relative to the International Reference Price. Affordability was calculated by comparing the costs of treatment for common conditions with the salary of the lowest paid government worker and was compared to available data from four Latin American countries. For generic medicines, the availability in public, retail, nonprofit and mixed sectors was 20%, 37%, 24% and 23% of medications, respectively. Most of the available medicines were priced higher than the International Reference Price. The lowest paid government worker would need 2.5 days' wages to treat an adult respiratory infection with generic medicines from the public sector. For treatment of common conditions with originator brands (OB) purchased from a retail pharmacy, costs were between 1.4 (anaerobic bacterial infection) and 13.7 (hyperlipidemia) days' wages, respectively. Treatment of pediatric bacterial infections with the OB of ceftriaxone from a retail pharmacy would cost 24.6 days' wages. Prices in Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua were frequently lower for comparable medications. The availability of essential medicines was low and prices varied widely across all four sectors. Over 75% of Haitians live on less than US$ 2.00 /day; therefore, most medication regimens are largely unaffordable. Inclusion of essential medications on the national formulary and working with organizations responsible for importing medications into Haiti, particularly drug donation agencies, are important first steps to increasing medication access.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013
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    • "South Africa, Brazil, Philippines) [9]. Their impact could be substantial [10]–[11] but we know far less about the effect of pro-generic medicine policies in LMICs than in high income countries [9]. Indeed, we know comparatively little about the private sector pharmaceutical market in low and middle income countries (LMICs) as compared to the public sector LMIC pharmaceutical markets [12]–[14] and even less about the market dynamics between originator/brand name and generic versions of the same medicine. "
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    ABSTRACT: This observational study investigates the private sector, retail pharmaceutical market of 19 low and middle income countries (LMICs) in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East/South Africa analyzing the relationships between volume market share of generic and originator medicines over a time series from 2001 to 2011. Over 5000 individual pharmaceutical substances were divided into generic (unbranded generic, branded generic medicines) and originator categories for each country, including the United States as a comparator. In 9 selected LMICs, the market share of those originator substances with the largest decrease over time was compared to the market share of their counterpart generic versions. Generic medicines (branded generic plus unbranded generic) represent between 70 and 80% of market share in the private sector of these LMICs which exceeds that of most European countries. Branded generic medicine market share is higher than that of unbranded generics in all three regions and this is in contrast to the U.S. Although switching from an originator to its generic counterpart can save money, this narrative in reality is complex at the level of individual medicines. In some countries, the market behavior of some originator medicines that showed the most temporal decrease, showed switching to their generic counterpart. In other countries such as in the Middle East/South Africa and Asia, the loss of these originators was not accompanied by any change at all in market share of the equivalent generic version. For those countries with a significant increase in generic medicines market share and/or with evidence of comprehensive "switching" to generic versions, notably in Latin America, it would be worthwhile to establish cause-effect relationships between pharmaceutical policies and uptake of generic medicines. The absence of change in the generic medicines market share in other countries suggests that, at a minimum, generic medicines have not been strongly promoted.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Finally, families who need medications for more than one child may be confronted with insurmountable drug costs. These findings are consistent with other studies of affordability of adult medicines showing that chronic medicines, in particular, are unaffordable for many populations [22,23,25,30]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Several World Health Organization (WHO) initiatives aim to improve the accessibility of safe and effective medicines for children. A first step in achieving this goal is to obtain a baseline measure of access to essential medicines. The objective of this project was to measure the availability, prices, and affordability of children’s medicines in Guatemala. Methods An adaption of the standardized methodology developed by the World Health Organization and Health Action International (HAI) was used to conduct a cross sectional survey to collect data on availability and final patient prices of medicines in public and private sector medicine outlets during April and May of 2010. Results A subset of the public sector, Programa de Accesibilidad a los Medicamentos (PROAM), had the lowest average availability (25%) compared to the private sector (35%). In the private sector, highest and lowest priced medicines were 22.7 and 10.7 times more expensive than their international reference price comparison. Treatments were generally unaffordable, costing as much as 15 days wages for a course of ceftriaxone. Conclusions Analysis of the procurement, supply and distribution of specific medicines is needed to determine reasons for lack of availability. Improvements to accessibility could be made by developing an essential medicines list for children and including these medicines in national purchasing lists.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Globalization and Health
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