Pricing, distribution, and use of antimalarial drugs.Bull World Health Organ. 1991; 69(3):349-63.BW
Prices of new antimalarial drugs are targeted at the "travellers' market" in developed countries, which makes them unaffordable in malaria-endemic countries where the per capita annual drug expenditures are US$ 5 or less. Antimalarials are distributed through a variety of channels in both public and private sectors, the official malaria control programmes accounting for 25-30% of chloroquine distribution. The unofficial drug sellers in markets, streets, and village shops account for as much as half of antimalarials distributed in many developing countries. Use of antimalarials through the health services is often poor; drug shortages are common and overprescription and overuse of injections are significant problems. Anxiety over drug costs may prevent patients from getting the necessary treatment for malaria, especially because of the seasonal appearance of this disease when people's cash reserves are very low. The high costs may lead them to unofficial sources, which will sell a single tablet instead of a complete course of treatment, and subsequently to increased, often irrational demand for more drugs and more injections. Increasingly people are resorting to self-medication for malaria, which may cause delays in seeking proper treatment in cases of failure, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has increased rapidly. Self-medication is now widespread, and measures to restrict the illicit sale of drugs have been unsuccessful. The "unofficial" channels thus represent an unacknowledged extension of the health services in many countries; suggestions are advanced to encourage better self-medication by increasing the knowledge base among the population at large (mothers, schoolchildren, market sellers, and shopkeepers), with an emphasis on correct dosing and on the importance of seeking further treatment without delay, if necessary.