From availability to affordability: Understanding global prescription medication barriers
August 2nd, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

From availability to affordability: Understanding global prescription medication barriers

Medication nonadherence - when patients don’t take their medications as prescribed - has become a common growing problem and can have serious, long-lasting consequences for patients with chronic diseases. Understanding the gaps and getting an insight into some of the most common barriers faced by prescription medicine users can be helpful for pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers and players in the medication adherence market - manufacturers of adherence systems, products and softwares.

Data from a recent YouGov study across 18 key international markets reveals that a third of global consumers who use prescription medicines say they have not faced any barriers while obtaining such medication over the past six months. However, this still leaves a majority of consumers who have indeed faced difficulties in procuring their medication. 

High medication cost (31%) is the most prevalent barrier to obtaining prescription drugs amongst our global respondents, followed by stocking issues (26%) and the difficulty of finding a pharmacy that carries the prescribed medicine (19%).

Just about one in ten consumers globally say that they have had to face linguistic barriers that prevent clear and effective communication with the pharmacist or healthcare provider (11%) or have found it difficult to get their medicine due to a lack of transport (10%).

Looking at the data for Great Britain, Sweden, the US, India and the UAE further reveals some interesting nuances. 

Interestingly, compared to almost half of adults in Great Britain and the US (49% and 48% respectively), less than a fifth of respondents in India (16%) and just a tenth of respondents in the UAE (10%) say that they have not faced any barriers to obtaining their prescription medication over the last six months, indicating that consumers in these nations are far likelier to face such hurdles than their western counterparts. 

According to the data, high medication costs is the most common problem for prescription medicine users in India and the UAE (41% and 42%). A substantial share of our American respondents – albeit significantly smaller – share the same opinion (26%).

However, this spot is taken by stocking issues when it comes to consumers in Sweden (32%) and Great Britain (25%), who enjoy more socialised medical systems where cost can be less of an issue.

While a third of Indian respondents say they have found it difficult to locate a pharmacy that stocks their prescribed medication (31%), only about a twentieth of Americans say the same (6%).

Similarly, nearly a quarter of our respondents in the UAE and Sweden say they have faced back-order issues (23% and 22% respectively) in comparison to just 13% of adults in the UK and US who say the same. 

Notably, language barriers and transportation issues are significantly more problematic among consumers in the UAE (28% and 23%) and India (21% and 22%) compared to any of the other examined markets above. 

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 511 and 1999 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in May 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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