Impact of the Economic Recession on the Pharmaceutical Sector
(2010; 65 pages)


The global financial crisis which started in 2008 may have considerable impact on governments’ budgets and the available funding for health services. Past economic recessions (especially the ‘97 Asian financial crisis) have shown that the impact on public health can be severe. At a high level meeting in January 2009 WHO was requested to investigate the impact of the current economic recession on global health. As part of this investigation a programme was established which focused on the impact of the global economic crisis on the pharmaceutical sector.

The goal of this study was to assess the impact of global recession on consumption of medicines and pharmaceutical expenditures and prices. A secondary objective was to investigate which medicines were affected the most and the least by the recession in those countries that showed a clear decline in medicines consumption. IMS Health provided indexed data for pharmaceutical consumption, expenditures and prices in 84 countries from the first quarter of 2007 (Q1 07) until the last quarter of 2009 (Q4 09). Changes in medicines consumption, pharmaceutical expenditure and prices over time (compared to the first quarter of 2008 (Q1 08); the last quarter before the recession) were assessed per WHO region (AFR, AMR, EMR, EUR, SEAR and WPR) and World Bank income category (high, upper middle, lower middle and low income countries). Linear regression analysis was used to establish a potential relationship between a decline in GDP and pharmaceutical consumption in the European region.

The consumption of medicines was subdivided into medicines for acute and chronic indications to examine if there was a difference in development of consumption between these two categories. To investigate a shift from original & licensed brands to other brands & unbranded medicines the consumption patterns of both categories were compared. A potential relationship between a decline in GDP and an increase in pharmaceutical prices was assessed by linear regression as well.

A shift in pharmaceutical consumption from the private sector to the public sector was investigated in four countries where data for both private and public sector were available...

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