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Explaining the demand for pharmaceuticals in Spain: Are there differences in drug consumption between foreigners and the Spanish population?


  • Jiménez-Rubio, Dolores
  • Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina


Objective The aim of this study is to examine the factors driving the demand for drugs in Spain, focusing on the existence of disparities in pharmaceutical consumption between the Spanish and the foreign population.Methods Our analysis is based on a multilevel multinomial probit model that compares three consumption options (no consumption, prescribed consumption and self-medicated consumption) on the five most consumed drugs in Spain. Data is taken from the adult sample of the 2006 Spanish National Health Survey, including 29,478 individuals over 15 years old.Results Overall, the findings show a lower consumption of medicines by some immigrants categories relative to Spaniards. In addition, the results indicate that the consumption of medicines is mainly related to variables associated to the specific cost sharing structure in Spain, such as health limitations and retirement status. Other variables found to explain the demand for drugs were: private health insurance, age, sex, alcohol and cigarette consumption and drug class.Conclusion Further understanding of the reasons for the observed differences in drug consumption on the basis of country of birth would allow the health system to design more effective health policies aimed at ensuring equality of access to health resources to all population groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Jiménez-Rubio, Dolores & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina, 2010. "Explaining the demand for pharmaceuticals in Spain: Are there differences in drug consumption between foreigners and the Spanish population?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 97(2-3), pages 217-224, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:97:y:2010:i:2-3:p:217-224

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina & Jiménez-Rubio, Dolores, 2009. "A comparison of the health status and health care utilization patterns between foreigners and the national population in Spain: New evidence from the Spanish National Health Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 370-378, August.
    2. Begoña Álvarez, 2001. "La demanda atendida de consultas médicas y servicios urgentes en España," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 25(1), pages 93-138, January.
    3. Joan Costa-Font & Panos Kanavos & Joan Rovira, 2007. "Determinants of out-of-pocket pharmaceutical expenditure and access to drugs in Catalonia," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(5), pages 541-551.
    4. Lundberg, Lena & Johannesson, Magnus & Isacson, Dag G. L. & Borgquist, Lars, 1998. "Effects of user charges on the use of prescription medicines in different socio-economic groups," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 123-134, May.
    5. Andrew M. Jones, 2012. "health econometrics," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Palgrave Macmillan.
    6. McDonald, James Ted & Kennedy, Steven, 2004. "Insights into the 'healthy immigrant effect': health status and health service use of immigrants to Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(8), pages 1613-1627, October.
    7. Morris, Stephen & Sutton, Matthew & Gravelle, Hugh, 2005. "Inequity and inequality in the use of health care in England: an empirical investigation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1251-1266, March.
    8. Rainer Winkelmann, 2004. "Co-payments for prescription drugs and the demand for doctor visits - Evidence from a natural experiment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(11), pages 1081-1089.
    9. Vaananen, Minna Heleena & Pietila, Kirsi & Airaksinen, Marja, 2006. "Self-medication with antibiotics--Does it really happen in Europe?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 166-171, July.
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