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Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2001 Fall;17(4):579-89.

Private pharmacy practice and regulation. A randomized trial in Lao P.D.R.

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Karolinska Institutet.



The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of government regulation of private pharmacy practice in a low-income country.


The intervention comprised inspections of the pharmacies, information, and distribution of documents to drug sellers and sanctions. It was implemented at two different intensity levels, active and regular intervention. The methods used to assess the effect of the interventions were interviews with the district drug inspectors, drug sellers and customers, inspection of drug purchases, and indicator surveys of pharmacies. Indicators for pharmacy-specific quality as well as for dispensing quality were developed.


The main finding was one of strong overall improvements from initially low levels. The improvements were particularly marked by increases in the availability of essential materials for dispensing by 34% and in order in the pharmacy by 19%. Information given to customers increased from 35% to 51% and the mixing of different drugs in the same package went down from 17% to 9%. The pharmacies in the active intervention districts showed greater improvements for four of the six indicators, although statistically significant compared with the regular intervention districts only for the essential materials indicator.


It was concluded that the regulatory activities have probably been an important factor behind the service quality improvements. It appeared feasible as well as effective to regulate private pharmacy practice in this particular low-income setting.

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