Wednesday, September 01, 2010

New study warns of drug costs to those in poverty

A new study says that people who are slightly above the poverty line could be pulled below it simply by buying common medicines. Drugs to control asthma or diabetes can be very expensive for people who earn little in under-developed or emerging countries. The authors of the study call for more measures to make drugs affordable or free to those in or near poverty.

From Reuters, writer Kate Kelland unpacks the study for us.

Laurens Niens' team at Erasmus University Rotterdam analyzed the number of people who would be pushed below an income level of $1.25 or $2 a day -- poverty indicators used by the World Bank -- by paying for four important, widely used medicines.

The Dutch researchers whose work was published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine journal on Tuesday said their findings showed that greater effort is needed to encourage the use of cheaper generic drugs in poor countries and to ensure more medicines are made available through the public sector.

The drugs studied were a salbutamol inhaler, used for the management of asthma, glibenclamide, a common diabetes drug, atenolol, which belongs to a drug class commonly known as beta-blockers and is used to treat high blood pressure, and amoxicillin, a broad spectrum antibiotic.

In Yemen, for example, where seven percent of people live on less than $1.25 a day, buying branded glibenclamide -- sold as Daonil by Sanofi-Aventis -- would impoverish another 22 percent, but buying the cheapest generic equivalent would only push another 3 percent below the poverty line.

No comments: