Increasingly in recent years, governments of low- and middle-income countries have embraced local production of medicines as a way to increase availability and lower prices. But a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers suggests that local production alone does not guarantee either lower prices or better access to medicines, and it recommends closer monitoring of procurement, supply, and distribution of locally produced and imported medicine.
The study, in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, examined differences in pricing and availability between imported and locally produced medicines in Ethiopia and Tanzania. Data were collected from private and public sector outlets and analyzed for 25 medicines in Ethiopia and 24 in Tanzania, including antibiotics and pain relievers.
The findings showed that in Ethiopia, the availability of locally produced medicines was higher than for imports, in both the public and private sectors. But the government paid more for local medicines compared to imports, and patient prices were actually higher for the local products. Eight of nine medicines that were procured as both local and imported products were less expensive when imported.
In Tanzania, the availability of local products was worse in the public sector when compared with imports. Although the government paid less for local products, the cost to patients was slightly higher than for imports because of government mark-ups.
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