Global Medication Spending, Usage Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

IQVIA researchers saw a sharp uptick in medication usage shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began, followed by a steep fall in the first few months of the pandemic.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, said the COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate impact on global medication spending and usage in the second quarter of 2020.

Shortly before the pandemic began but after the virus started spreading, Aitken said researchers saw a significant increase in medication usage, which he called the “stockpiling period.” In the first months of the pandemic, however, usage plummeted as patients relied on the medications they had stockpiled a few months earlier.

Aitken also reviewed some broader trends in medication spending and usage over the past decade, noting that global use of medicine has gradually slowed, although it has still increased at a 3% compound annual growth rate since 2014. This could have various causes, he said, including budgetary limitations in some countries.

All of these findings were outlined in IQVIA’s Global Medicine Spending and Usage Trends report.