Availability and price changes of potential medicines and equipment for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 among pharmacy and drug stores in Bangladesh; findings and implications

Haque, Mainul and Islam, Salequl and Iqbal, Samiul and Urmi, Umme Laila and Kamal, Zubair Mahmood and Shuvo, Shahriar Ahmed and Rahman, Aminur and Kamal, Mustafa and Haque, Monami and Jahan, Iffat and Islam, Zakirul and Hossain, Mohammad Monir and Murshid, Munzur-E and Sefah, Israel and Kurdi, Amanj and Godman, Brian (2020) Availability and price changes of potential medicines and equipment for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 among pharmacy and drug stores in Bangladesh; findings and implications. Bangladesh Journal of Medical Science, 19. S36-S50. ISSN 2076-0299

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    Abstract

    Objective: There are concerns with increased prices and drug shortages for pertinent medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent and treat COVID-19 enhanced by misinformation. Community pharmacists and drug stores play a significant role in disease management in Bangladesh due to high co-payments. Consequently, a need to review prices and availability in the pandemic. Materials and Methods: Multiple approach involving a review and questionnaire among pharmacies and stores early March to end May 2020. Results and Discussion: 170 pharmacies and drug stores took part, giving a response rate of 63.9%. Encouragingly, no change in utilization of antimalarial medicines in 51.2% of stores despite global endorsements. However, increased utilisation of antibiotics (70.6%), analgesics (97.6%), vitamins (90.6%) and PPE (over 95%). Encouragingly, increases in purchasing of PPE. No increase in prices among 50% of the stores for antimalarials, with a similar situation for antibiotics (65.3%), analgesics (54.7%), and vitamins (51.8%). However, price increases typically for PPE (over 90% of stores). Shortages also seen for medicines and PPE, again greater for PPE. Conclusions: The pandemic has impacted on the supply and prices of medicines and PPE in Bangladesh. Key stakeholder groups can play a role addressing misinformation, with enhanced local production helping address future shortages and prices.