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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

HELFER, Ana Paula et al. Affordability and availability of drugs for treatment of chronic diseases in the public health care system. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2012, vol.31, n.3, pp. 225-232. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892012000300007.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the affordability by workers of drugs used for treatment of chronic diseases, as well as the availability of the reference, similar, or generic forms of these drugs in the public health care system. METHODS: We employed the methodology recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Action International (HAI) for the standardized collection of information on selling prices in the private sector and availability in the public health care system of drugs in six cities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Data were collected from November 2008 to January 2009. Affordability was estimated as the number of salary days required for a worker receiving the national minimum wage to buy, in a private pharmacy, the amount of medication required for one month of treatment. Availability was assessed by the presence of these drugs in public health care system facilities. RESULTS: Twenty-two public facilities and 30 private pharmacies were studied. Of 21 drugs used for the treatment of seven chronic disorders, only nine were available free of charge in the six cities. Mean availability ranged from 83.3% (São Leopoldo) to 97.6% (Caxias do Sul). Affordability ranged from 0.4 to 10.5 salary days for reference drugs, 0.2 to 8.4 salary days for similar drugs, and 0.3 to 3.8 salary days for generic drugs. CONCLUSIONS: The overall availability of the drugs surveyed was higher than the 80% recommended by WHO. However, some treatments were not available, or had limited availability in the public system. Concerning affordability, the number of salary days required to buy these drugs may affect the continuation of drug treatments for chronic diseases.

Keywords : Economics; pharmaceutical; drugs, essential; drug price; chronic disease.

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