Background

Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) against malaria are subsidized in many African countries, but the impact of subsidy programs in reducing the sales of concomitantly available antimalarial monotherapies is poorly defined.

Methods

Data from The MENTOR initiative, that introduced subsidized artemether-lumefantrine (sAL) in the private sector of Huambo province, Angola, were used. The main response variable was represented by sales of sAL and of monotherapies, measured as number of treatment courses. Sales in private pharmacies of sAL and four antimalarial monotherapies between 2009 and 2013 were organized in four time-periods, and analyzed using generalized linear models for repeated measures. A secondary analysis evaluated changes in relative market share.

Results

We analyzed data from 34 pharmacies at four time points, taken from a larger survey that involved 165 pharmacies between June 2009 and March 2013. The sAL, following its introduction, became the dominant antimalarial treatment in the private sector, usually exceeding the total sales of all antimalarial monotherapies combined (1480/2800 total treatment courses, 52.8% of all sales in March 2013). Sales of monotherapies decreased significantly, but did not stop, representing 36.7% (1028/2800) of sales at the end of the survey.

Conclusions

Subsidized ACTs can attain rapidly a high relative market share. Their introduction reduced, but did not eliminate the demand for less effective monotherapies, that might favor parasite resistance.

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