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Pharmaceutical sector in transition--a cross sectional study in Vietnam.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Increasing efforts are being made to improve pharmaceutical sector performance in low- and middle-income countries. An essential tool for such work is an objective and standard method of assessment which can be used to promote evidenced based National Drug Policy development and implementation. The average drug expenditure per capita has steadily increased in Vietnam and at the time of this study a National Drug Policy was being developed. This study assessed the Vietnamese pharmaceutical sector 1991-1994, focusing on the standard of the drug quality control system, availability of drugs and rational use of essential drugs in the private and public sectors by means of standardised indicators. The results from this study show that the quality control system is impaired and does not have capacity to quality control all drugs on the market. The availability of essential drugs is good whereas essential drugs are poorly prescribed, injections common and there is a high average number of drugs per prescription, both in the public and private sectors. Violations are common and enforcement of regulations weak. On top of this there is an active commercial advertising and marketing of drugs. These findings identify priorities for action to improve the present situation where the development and implementation of the Vietnamese National Drug Policy will be of major importance.

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