Medicine utilisation and pricing in Malaysia: The findings of a household survey

Zaheer Ud din Babar, Izham Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed, Nadeem Irfan Bukhari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The objectives of this study were to identify the most commonly used medicines for mainly prevalent ailments and to compare retail sector prices (RSPs), public sector prices (PSPs) and international reference prices (IRPs). A convenient sampling method was employed to survey 33 households in a metropolitan city. Each family was followed once a week for eight weeks to observe their diseases and medication usage. The RSPs and PSPs for per unit doses and defined daily doses (DDDs) were compared with the IRPs. The most common ailments identified were cardiovascular and endocrine disorders followed by central nervous system and musculoskeletal disorders. Accordingly, the most common drugs used were for the treatment of the above ailments. Among 81 commonly used medicines, 63 were branded and 18 were generic. Of the 81 drugs, 26 were essential drugs. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers were among the most commonly used medicines. The differential between the prices of branded medicines and IRPs were found to be remarkable. This study further revealed that the majority of patients also used traditional medicines and nutritional supplements alongside their modern medicines. Wide variations were observed in RSPs and IRPs, warranting critical evaluation, regulation and emphasis on the economic aspects of drug policy. Widespread use of branded medicines in the absence of a national health insurance programme can lead to high out-of-pocket expenditures. Concomitant use of traditional medicines and nutritional supplements may have drug interaction potential, invoking detailed investigation for relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Generic Medicines
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


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