Malaria treatment policy recommends regular monitoring of drug utilization to generate information for ensuring effective use of anti-malarial drugs in Nigeria. This information is currently limited in the retail sector which constitutes a major source of malaria treatment in Nigeria, but are characterized by significant inappropriate use of drugs. This study analyzed the use pattern of anti-malarial drugs in medicine outlets to assess the current state of compliance to policy on the use of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
A prospective cross-sectional survey of randomly selected medicine outlets in Enugu urban, southeast Nigeria, was conducted between May and August 2013, to determine the types, range, prices, and use pattern of anti-malarial drugs dispensed from pharmacies and patent medicine vendors (PMVs). Data were collected and analyzed for anti-malarial drugs dispensed for self-medication to patients, treatment by retail outlets and prescription from hospitals.
A total of 1,321 anti-malarial drugs prescriptions were analyzed. ACT accounted for 72.7%, while monotherapy was 27.3%. Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) drugs contributed 33.9% (326/961) of ACT. Artemether-lumefantrine (AL), 668 (50.6%) was the most used anti-malarial drug, followed by monotherapy sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), 248 (18.8%). Median cost of ACT at $2.91 ($0.65-7.42) per dose, is about three times the median cost of monotherapy, $0.97 ($0.19-13.55). Total cost of medication (including co-medications) with ACT averaged $3.64 (95% CI; $3.53-3.75) per prescription, about twice the mean cost of treatment with monotherapy, $1.83 (95% CI; $1.57-2.1). Highest proportion 46.5% (614), of the anti-malarial drugs was dispensed to patients for self-treatment. Treatment by retail outlets accounted for 35.8% while 17.7% of the drugs were dispensed from hospital prescriptions. Self-medication, 82%, accounted for the highest source of monotherapy and a majority of prescriptions, 85.6%, was adults.
Findings suggest vastly improved use of ACT in the retail sector after eight years of policy change, with significant contributions from AMFm drugs. However the use of monotherapy, particularly through self-medication remains significant with increasing risk of undermining treatment policy, suggesting additional measures to directly target consumers and providers in the sector for improved use of anti-malarial drugs in Nigeria.