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Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) essential medicines: low availability in public hospitals, high cost in private hospitals and pharmacies

A study in Uganda examined the availability, price, and affordability of 17 essential medicines and 2 diagnostic tests for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) care and management. Data was collected from 85 private pharmacies, 23 public hospitals, and 22 private hospitals.

The results showed that between public and private hospitals, the former had higher availability of the two diagnostic tests. However, out of all the facilities, public hospitals had the lowest availability (<50%) of the essential medicines.

The findings revealed that in private hospitals and pharmacies, the median local price of several inhaled generic medicines exceeded the parameters of affordable pricing  (<1.5 times the international reference price (IRP)). The costs of select medicines ranged from 119 to 486 times the IRP.

Days’ wages of the least paid public servant purchasing a month’s worth of treatment was used a proxy for affordability. The analysis revealed that the medicines cost from 2 to 17 days’ wages, and that only one medicine, Salbutamol 100μg, fit the affordability criteria (<3 days wages). Diagnostic tests in only two hospitals were not free of charge, and cost about 27 days' wages. For detailed information about this study, read more here.

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