Measuring Medicine Prices, Availability, Affordability and Price Components

Developed by: Health Action International (HAI) / World Health Organization (WHO)

Objective: To generate reliable information on the price, availability and affordability of a basket of 50 key medicines, to inform the development of policies and strategies - which have the ultimate goal of improving access to affordable medicines.

Output: Core data which establishes: the price people pay for key medicines; whether the prices and availability of the same medicines vary in different sectors or in different parts of a country; what differences are in prices and availability of originator brands and generically equivalent medicines; whether prices vary between product types (e.g. originator brands and generics) within the same sector; how the government procurement prices compare with patient prices in the public sector; how national prices compare with international reference prices; what taxes and duties are levied on medicines and the level of various mark-ups that contribute to their retail and public sector prices; how affordable medicines are for ordinary people.

Additional information:
  Experience has shown that as a first step it is critical to agree the selection of medicines to be surveyed, identify their dosage strengths and the name under which the brand is marketed. In the bulk of surveys, price components have been more difficult to obtain. In addition, despite the guidelines in the manual, data analysis and interpretation can be challenging for countries.

Process and resources:

  • A survey manager (preferably a pharmacist with knowledge of the healthcare system) coordinates the survey, working with area supervisors who, in turn, work with a team of a recommended 12 data collectors (for example, government staff or pharmacy students).
  • It is recommended an advisory committee is established to agree: (1) the survey objectives and scope, (2) the medicines to be surveyed, (3) source of procurement data, (4) personnel and other resource needs, (5) timelines, (6) budget, (7) potential development partners. The advisory committee can also play an important role in interpreting the survey results, developing recommendations and promoting their uptake. 
  • It is advisable to conduct the survey with the involvement of the MoH to promote the use of the results in decision-making. The MoH could lead the survey or, at minimum, be a member of the survey's advisory committee.
  • Costs range between US$5,000-$20,000.
  • As part of the WHO/HAI Project on Medicine Prices and Availability, on-line support is offered by project personnel to survey managers undertaking a medicine price and availability survey using the WHO/ HAI methodology.

Link to the tool:

Country Experience: To date, over 70 surveys in 50 countries have been completed.
For results of these surveys and other information please see

It has been completed in the following MeTA pilot countries:







Blue tablets