A new study calls for making generic life-saving heart medicines more affordable and readily available worldwide. The study notes that in poor and middle-income nations, these vital medications are often not widely available or are too expensive, while in rich countries, as many as half of patients with a history of heart disease or stroke still do not receive them.
The researchers add that unless both availability and affordability of these medicines are improved, their use is likely to remain low in most of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target for four classes of heart medicines — aspirin, beta blockers, statins and angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors — to be available in 80 percent of communities and used by half of eligible patients by 2025. But the researchers say that compliance is currently far from this target and adds that unless availability and affordability of these drugs are improved, their use is likely to remain low in most of the world.
The researchers say that unless governments in most countries, especially low- and middle-income countries, begin initiatives to make these essential heart medicines available and provided free, as is done in the case of HIV, then their use is always going to be far less than optimal.
Researchers assessed use of these heart medicines over a ten year period from 2003 to 2013 in 18 countries, including Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Poland, Turkey, Chile, Malaysia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, China, Occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and India.
Availability of the drugs ranged from readily available in both urban and rural areas of high-income countries to available in just 25 percent of urban and 3 percent of rural communities in low-income countries. With regard to affordability, while it was an issue for less than one percent of households in the richest countries, the drugs were potentially unaffordable in about 60 percent of households in low-income countries.