Analysis of Factors Affecting Pharmaceutical Product Purchase Frequency

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Yuko Ito, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy, Tokyo, Japan
Background: The Japanese government covers over 80% of the country’s healthcare costs. In recent years, self-medication has been recommended with the hope that it will have the effect of suppressing healthcare costs. To achieve effective self-medication, people need to be proactive in obtaining information regarding pharmaceutical products, and make skillful use of OTC medicines. A specialist such as the pharmacist at a pharmacy often gives detailed information of pharmaceutical products directly to the purchaser. Therefore, people who purchase OTC medicines frequently should have more opportunities to acquire information relating to pharmaceutical products than do those who make fewer purchases. In this research, we illuminate the differences between frequent and infrequent purchasers of OCT medicines, and propose measures to aid the promotion of self-medication. Method: We conducted an analysis using responses obtained from an Internet survey titled “Questionnaire Survey Regarding Purchases of Pharmaceutical Products” (11,685 responses), carried out by MyVoice Communications, Inc. from July 1 to 5, 2012.  Results: We analyzed the characteristics of the respondents (area of residence, gender, age, marital status, number of cohabitants, number of children, academic history, career, and household income) in the “less than a few times a year” group, the “about 2 to 3 times a month” group, and the “more than once a week” group, using the Mann-Whitney U test. Significant differences were observed in gender and household income between the “less than a few times a year” group and the “about 2 to 3 times a month” group for pharmaceutical purchasing frequency. Significant differences were also observed in gender, number of cohabitants, and household income between the “less than a few times a year” group and the “more than once a week” group. In both cases, compared to the group with the lower frequency, the group with the higher frequency of purchasing pharmaceutical products tended to include a higher ratio of women, a higher number of cohabitants, and a higher household income. Conclusion: The frequency of purchasing OTC medicines was shown to be related to the purchaser’s financial status. Therefore, to further promote self-medication, the following measures would seem to be necessary: 1) the provision of many places providing free information on pharmaceutical products, and 2) increasing the sales of low-priced OTC medicines in small packages containing only the amount needed for a few days, for example.