Essential medicines and health products

IMS Health Report to WHO Examines Effect of the Global Economic Crisis on Pharmaceutical Consumption, Expenditure and Unit Prices

On January 19, 2009, the WHO convened a high-level meeting to discuss the Financial Crisis and Global Health (*). One of the key conclusions of this meeting was that "Monitoring early warning signs requires information from different sources." The WHO, in co-operation with IMS Health, has put in place a programme to track the impact of the global economic crisis on the consumption of medicines globally throughout 2009.

In the programme’s initial report, data from 83 countries representing approximately 81% of the global population have been studied from January 2007 through March 2009. Data on total pharmaceutical consumption, total expenditure and average price per standard unit have been collected. In addition, for consumption of medicines, data have been organized by category (for example, acute and chronic medicines).

The first report indicates that most countries have not yet seen a decline in the volume of pharmaceuticals consumed. In some countries, prices have increased during the study period while in others they have fallen slightly -- and total expenditures have been stable or have increased to a limited extent. These results suggest that there is no firm evidence to date that the current economic crisis has had a detrimental impact on access to medicines.

Future reports will be issued quarterly to track the ongoing impact of the economic crisis on pharmaceuticals.

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