On January 19, 2009, the WHO convened a high-level meeting to discuss the Financial Crisis and Global Health1. One of the key conclusions of this meeting was that "Monitoring early warning signs requires information from different sources." The WHO has put in place a programme to track the impact of the global economic crisis on the consumption of medicines globally in collaboration with IMS. In this report, IMS presents pharmaceutical consumption information from 83 countries worldwide collected by IMS that cover an estimated 5.3 billion people and represent 81% of the global population. In high-income countries, the data represent consumption or sales in both the public and private sectors (where they exist), while in low- and middle-income countries, the majority of the information relates only to the private sector exclusively. Reports will be produced quarterly over the coming year, highlighting any changes in consumption patterns from those seen in 2007 and 2008. They will apply learnings from the 1997 Asian currency crisis, and focus on changes in consumption patterns, expenditures and unit prices.
The objective is to generate indices that track consumption, expenditure and the price of pharmaceuticals country by country on a global basis each quarter. The indices track the latest available time periods and compare that with data from previous quarters.
IMS collects pharmaceutical consumption data from wholesalers, hospitals and/or dispensing outlets such as pharmacies or drugstores. The methodology employed varies by country and is dependent on the nature of their respective health systems.2 Where IMS does not collect data from all facilities, the sample is projected to a national level for the particular distribution channel being audited by IMS. In middle- and low-income countries, IMS largely, but not exclusively, measures private sector consumption. In those countries where IMS has no access to public sector data, it does not estimate consumption in that sector. Therefore, it is important to review the sectors and distribution channels covered by IMS in its audits.
Two indices were calculated. The first shows the evolution of consumption or price compared with the first quarter (Q) of 2008, which the study considers to be at least one quarter before the current economic crisis began. The second index depicts the change in consumption for a particular quarter compared to the same quarter in the previous