Health Policy Manag.  2020 Sep;30(3):311-325. 10.4332/KJHPA.2020.30.3.311.

A Critical Evaluation and International Comparison of Pharmaceutical Consumption and Sales Statistics

  • 1Department of Research, Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service, Wonju, Korea


Health statistics of pharmaceutical use and expenditure are essential to make and implement evidence-based pharmaceutical policy. This study aims to demonstrate the methods and results of pharmaceutical consumption and sales in 2018 according to the sources and methods given by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The medication list contains 39,346 medicines both reimbursed and non-reimbursed by the National Health Insurance in 2018. We used the therapeutic categories based on Anatomic Therapeutic Chemical Classification of World Health Organization. This study analyzed National Health Insurance claims data and supply data generated from wholesalers to health care facilities. The indicators are defined daily dose (DDD), per 1,000 inhabitants per day and US$ per capita.
In South Korea, the number of medications to which DDD were assigned was 18,055 and it was 45.9% of the total number of medications on the list. The consumption in anti-infective for systemic use (J) and musculo-skeletal system (M) was higher than the mean consumption among the OECD countries. The pharmaceutical sales per person in Korea was also higher than the mean sales per person across the OECD countries.
We sought to explain the methods to produce pharmaceutical consumption and sales statistics which we had submitted annually to OECD. Considering the characteristics of pharmaceutical statistics, a direct comparison should be approached with caution. Since the growth in pharmaceutical spending has greatly increased over the past decade, we need to monitor pharmaceutical consumption and expenditure consistently.


Drug utilization review; Statistics; Pharmaceutical expenditure
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