The World Medicines Situation 2011 - Medicine Expenditures
(2011; 34 pages)


1. Per capita pharmaceutical expenditures in 2005/2006 ranged from US$ 7.61 in low-income countries to US$ 431.6 in high-income countries, with considerable variation between income groups in each country. Compared to 1995, the rate of increase is greater in middle- and low-income countries;

2. Sixteen percent of the world’s population living in high-income countries accounts for over 78% of global expenditures on medicines;

3. Measured Total Pharmaceutical Expenditure (TPE) accounts for 1.41% to 1.63% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by income groups and regions although there is considerable variation between countries ranging from 0.2% to 3.8% of GDP;

4. TPE is closely related with both Total Health Expenditures (THE), and with GDP. The proportion spent on medicines is higher in low per capita income countries. On average 24.9 % of THE is spent on medicines, with a wide range from 7.7% to 67.6%

5. Since 1995 the private share of TPE has increased in all but high-income countries;

6. TPE is determined by price and quantity of medicines purchased. In countries with low prices and high per capita TPE addressing the rational use of medicines is critical to control TPE and TPE growth. Additional policies on medicine prices may be required to ensure equitable access;

7. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 8-E expresses a global commitment to ensure that access to essential affordable medicines is achieved by 2015. To achieve this goal an increase in spending on medicines in low- and middle-income countries may be required. This could be achieved by an increase in health insurance coverage or increased public expenditure.

The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: December 1, 2019