Portuguese Global Medicines Access Index 2021: An Indicator to Measure Access to Hospital Medicines



Access to innovative and effective medication is a citizen’s right. The main objectives of this study were to build an indicator to measure access to medicines within hospitals, the Global Medicines Access Index, and to identify the main existing barriers.


Cross-sectional study carried out in Portuguese National Health Service hospitals. A consensus methodology (expert panel of 7 members) was used to define which dimensions should be included in the index and the weighting that each should take. The panel identified 6 dimensions: access to innovative medicines, proximity distribution, shortages, access to medicines before financing decision, value-based healthcare, and access to medication depending on cost/funding. Data were collected through an electronic questionnaire (September 2021).


The response rate was 61.2%. Most hospitals used medicines with and without marketing authorization before the funding decision. Monitoring and generating evidence of new therapies results is still insufficient. The identified barriers were the administrative burden as the major barrier in purchasing medicines, with a relevant impact on shortages of medicines. Most respondents (87%) had a proximity distribution program, mainly implemented in the pandemic context, and the price/funding model was only identified by 10% as a barrier to access. The 2021 Global Medicines Access Index was 66%. Shortages and value-based use of medicines were the dimensions that had more influence in lowering the index value.


The new formula used to obtain a unique and multidimensional index for access to hospital medicines seems to be more sensitive and objective and will be used to monitor access.


Sofia Oliveira-Martins Miguel Costa Lopes Alexandra Cardoso dos Santos Ana Margarida Advinha

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