97% of Ukrainians have to pay for medicines, 50% delay treatment due to lack of money – research


Almost all Ukrainian patients (97%), receiving in-patient or out-patient medical care, pay for medicines from their own pocket. High cost of medicines often deprives them of access to treatment.  Every second patient gives up treatment or delays treatment due to lack of money. For the same reason, 56% accept partial treatment. 43% had to sell their property or borrow money to be able to buy medicines, according to findings of the research conducted by the charity foundation “Patients of Ukraine” within USAID project “Cost(less) medicines program”. The study focused on access to treatment, households spending on pharmaceuticals and the resulting effect of these two issues on the quality of life.

Almost a half of patients do not trust doctors, explaining that they are not attentive to the patients, rarely ask detailed questions about their state of health. According to the survey, doctors rarely explain why they prescribe this or that medicine or give a very wide explanation. Almost 45% of patients said that doctors do not offer them to choose between a more expensive and a cheaper medicine. Only 23% said that doctors prescribed them treatment using the INN, not a certain medicine’s name. As a result, nearly 68% often prefer self-treatment rather than going to see a doctor. “Internet is one of the most popular ‘doctors’ for Ukrainians. They often accept partial treatment due to lack of money, or look for information in the Internet to replace an expensive medicine by a cheaper one,” said Olha Stefanyshyna, executive director of the charity foundation “Patients of Ukraine”.

The study also revealed that half of patients were using medicines of unproven efficiency. The analysis of top-100 medicines-bestsellers in Ukrainian pharmacies shows that Ukrainians spent on these questionable medicines more than UAH 3 billion.

The results of the research and recommendations have been passed to the Ministry of Health to be considered during decision-making about further healthcare reforms. “Ukrainians deserve an affordable health system that works for and is responsive to their needs. We hope this study findings will provide a tool for implementing the necessary changes to ensure patients’ access to safe, efficient and affordable high-quality treatment,” noted Susan K. Fritz, Director of USAID regional mission to Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

Ulana Suprun, acting Minister of Healthcare of Ukraine, reminded that a program “Affordable medicines” on reimbursement of medicines cost will be launched on April 1. The first stage of the program includes medicines for patients with type 2 diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular diseases. “I hope that by the end of summer this program will encompass nearly 50-60 % of patients,” Suprun noted. The list of pharmacies participating in the program will be published on the Ministry’s website. Reference prices are to be introduced only for medicines which are included into reimbursement program, so there are no grounds for fears that some medicines will disappear from pharmacies, said Olha Stefanyshyna. “Many foreign producers of medicines have already decreased their prices to participate in this program. They understand that reimbursement of medicines cost is a way to contemporary medicine, and they already taking part in reimbursement programs in other countries. Among pharmaceutical businesses there are those interested not only in making money,” added Ulana Suprun.

She stressed that it is important that the Parliament adopt a new law on state guarantees of funding for medical services and medicines as soon as possible. “We need a civilized European healthcare, this is our objective. I call you to support the ongoing reforms and the draft laws that are being submitted to the Parliament,” she noted.

Olha Stefanyshyna reminded that the list of medicines purchased for public costs is available on the website  www.eliky.in.ua. These medicines must be given to the patients for free. She added that every hospital must publish the list of available medicines purchased for public costs.