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Economic behavior of medicine retailers and access to anti-malarials

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Purpose ‐ The subsidization of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) at supranational level to avoid undermining the private distribution system in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, as advocated by Committee on the Economics of Antimalarial Drugs board on Global Health, requires the appraisal of the economic behaviour of relevant private agents in these regions, in order to assess their potential influence on access to ACT. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the economic behaviour of informal medicine retailers and how this effects access to ACT, using data generated from a primary survey in southeast Nigeria. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A field survey was carried out which included health providers and households. A market price survey was undertaken to generate primary data, using closed and semi-open questionnaires, and there were focus group discussions in two south-eastern states in Nigeria. A standard two-stage method was used for the design of the survey. Findings ‐ The study demonstrates that the economic behaviour of informal medicine affects market prices of ACT, facilitates information diffusion, improves availability and acceptability dimensions of access to ACT. However, their clinical practices are weak and require policy interventions. Originality/value ‐ This paper brings to the fore the influence of economic behaviour of retail agents in the medical market, which needs to be taken into account when considering alternative distributional channels for ACT, if the WHO goal of universal access in malaria-endemic regions is to be achieved.
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Keywords: Access; Artemisinin combination therapy; Distribution channels and markets; Drugs; Economic behaviour; Informal medicine retailers; Medicines; Nigeria; Retailing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 8, 2013

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