Availability, prices and affordability of essential medicines in Zhejiang Province, China
Objective To evaluate the availability, prices, and affordability of essential medicines in Zhejiang Province, China. Methods The survey was carried out in Zhejiang Province in 2018 following the methodology of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Action International (HAI). This method is an international standard method.Data on 50 medicines were collected from public health facilities and private pharmacies. Medication prices were compared with international reference prices to
... ence prices to obtain a median price ratio. The affordability of medicines was measured based on the daily wage of the lowest-paid unskilled government worker. In private pharmacies, the mean availability of Originator Brands (OBs) and Lowest-priced Generics (LPGs) was 36.7% and 40.3%, respectively. Findings The effects of the mean availability of OBs and LPGs were seen in private pharmacies. Correspondingly, the average availability of OBs and LPGs was 41.8% and 35.1% in the public sector, respectively. In the public sector, the median price ratios (MPRs) were 5.21 for generics and 13.49 for OBs. In the private sector, the MPRs were 4.94 for generics and 14.75 for OBs. Treating common diseases with LPGs was generally affordable, while treatment with OBs was less affordable. Conclusions In Zhejiang Province, low availability was observed for medicines surveyed in the public and private sectors. Price differences between originator brands and generics in both sectors are apparent. OBs were more expensive than LPGs in both the public and private sectors. Low availability affects access to essential medicines. Policy measures should be taken to improve the availability of essential medicines.