Medications: the need and struggle to access
Medications play an instrumental role in the prevention and treatment of many diseases, yet billions still lack access.
One of the key priority areas in healthcare today is the access to and future of medicine – a topic stressed by major national and international organizations. Medications are an integral part of healthcare delivery, consume a significant amount of healthcare spending, and affect both developed and developing markets. Global spending on drugs was estimated to be more than $1 trillion in 2018 and is projected to reach more than $1.5 trillion by 2023.(1) The United States (US) total prescription spending alone is estimated to have reached $476 billion in 2018 – this is comparable to the full economies of some developed countries.(2)
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, however, that two billion people globally still lack access to essential medications.(3) These are medications that could save lives, prevent illness and suffering, and allow individuals a chance at living a better quality of life. The struggle to access medication is not exclusive to patients, as healthcare institutions (e.g., hospitals and pharmacies) are experiencing drug shortages and are having difficulties obtaining the medications they need.
As we are experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages of essential medications are also sounding the alarm. The universality and breadth of this crisis has impacted the global pharmaceutical supply chain.
Article # 2: Drug Shortages - Part I of II
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1. IQVIA. IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science Study: Global Medicine Spending Exceeds $1.5 Trillion by 2023 as Spending Growth Steadies. Jan 29, 2019. https://www.iqvia.com/newsroom/2019/01/iqvia-institute-for-human-data-science-study-global-medicine-spending-exceeds-15-trillion-by-2023-as.
2. Schumock GT, Stubbings J, Hoffman JM, et al. National trends in prescription drug expenditures and projections for 2019. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2019 Jul 18;76(15):1105-1121
3. World Health Organization. Access to medicines: making market forces serve the poor. https://www.who.int/publications/10-year-review/medicines/en/.