skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

The global impact of COVID-19 on drug purchases: A cross-sectional time series analysis.

Suda KJ, Kim KC, Hernandez I, Gellad WF, Rothenberger S, Campbell A, Malliart L, Tadrous M. The global impact of COVID-19 on drug purchases: A cross-sectional time series analysis. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association : JAPhA. 2022 May 1; 62(3):766-774.e6.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: The drug supply chain is global and at risk of disruption and subsequent drug shortages, especially during unanticipated events. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to determine the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on drug purchases overall, by class, and for specific countries. METHODS: A cross-sectional time series analysis of country-level drug purchase data from August 2014 to August 2020 from IQVIA MIDAS was conducted. Standardized units per 100 population and percentage increase in units purchased were assessed from 68 countries and jurisdictions in March 2020 (when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic). Analyses were compared by United Nations development status and drug class. Autoregressive integrated moving average models tested the significance of changes in purchasing trends. RESULTS: Before COVID-19, standardized medication units per 100 population ranged from 3990 to 4760 monthly. In March 2020, there was a global 15% increase in units of drugs purchased to 5309.3 units per 100 population compared with the previous year; the increase was greater in developed countries (18.5%; P < 0.001) than in developing countries (12.8%; P  <  0.0001). After the increase in March 2020, there was a correction in the global purchase rate decreasing by 4.7% (April to August 2020 rate, 21,334.6/100 population; P < 0.001). Globally, we observed high purchasing rates and large changes for respiratory medicines such as inhalers and systemic adrenergic drugs (March 2020 rate, 892.7/100 population; change from 2019, 28.5%; P < 0.001). Purchases for topical dermatologic products also increased substantially (42.2%), although at lower absolute rates (610.0/100 population in March 2020; P  < 0.0001). Interestingly, purchases for systemic anti-infective agents (including antiviral drugs) increased in developing countries (11.3%; P < 0.001), but decreased in developed countries (1.0%; P  = 0.06). CONCLUSION: We observed evidence of global drug stockpiling in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among developed countries. Actions toward equitable distribution of medicines through a resilient drug supply chain should be taken to increase global response to future unanticipated events, such as pandemics.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.