As part of the Fiji School of Medicine practice-based research program, a
survey was undertaken of medicine prices throughout Fiji in September 2004.
Price and availability data were collected and analysed for 36 retail pharmacies
(out of a total of 39 in Fiji). For a core list of 30 medicines, data on
availability and price were recorded in each pharmacy and in the central agency
for public sector drug distribution. Availability and price were recorded for
the innovator brand, most used generic and lowest price generic. As there is no
drug registration process in Fiji, in the public sector the quality of medicines is controlled through monthly retrospective sample analysis. There is
no such quality control process in the private sector, although the private sector would
be prepared to make samples available for analysis. This will be the subject of a
future research study.
Acquisition prices in the public sector compared very favourably with
international comparator prices as published by the Management Sciences for Health. Similarly,
in the private sector there was also a favourable comparison. The dispensed price for
generic comparators was about three to six times cheaper than for the innovator brand. An affordability estimation was made by determining the work time required at
lowest government salary, in order to purchase a standard course of a sample of
medicines. This indicated that during stock-outs in the public sector, a range
of essential medicines is actually affordable in the private sector for employed persons.