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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

ALONSO, Valeria. Drug consumption and health equity in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2003, vol.13, n.6, pp. 400-406. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892003000500009.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the level of equity in drug consumption patterns in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, Argentina, given the transformation of the Argentine pharmaceutical market since the deregulation of the country's economy in 1991. METHODOLOGY: For this study, data from secondary statistical sources were processed and analyzed. The secondary sources used were two household surveys that contained a module on the utilization of health services and the associated expenditures. The surveys had been designed by the Ministry of Health and were applied in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires in 1989 and 1995. RESULTS: There was a socially regressive increase in out-of-pocket expenditures on drugs between 1989 and 1995, in a market where average drug prices doubled in the midst of relaxed price controls and more open imports. The regressive character of drug expenditures was shown in the growth in direct spending for drug purchases, the increase in the proportion of private health expenditures devoted to drugs, and the unequal increase among the different economic strata in the proportion of family income going toward drugs. CONCLUSIONS: Out-of-pocket expenditures on drugs are an efficient indicator of equity for studying the financial protections that urban Argentines have when they become ill. This kind of indicator of financial equity could help improve the regulatory framework of the pharmaceutical market by incorporating social evaluation criteria along with analyses of pharmaceutical safety and therapeutic efficacy.

Keywords : Equidad en el acceso; gastos en medicamentos; Argentina.

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