This study aims to rank policy concerns and policy-related research issues in order to identify policy and research gaps on access to medicines (ATM) in low- and middle-income countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), as perceived by policy makers, researchers, NGO and international organization representatives, as part of a global prioritization exercise.
Data collection, conducted between January and May 2011, involved face-to-face interviews in El Salvador, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Suriname, and an e-mail survey with key-stakeholders. Respondents were asked to choose the five most relevant criteria for research prioritization and to score policy/research items according to the degree to which they represented current policies, desired policies, current research topics, and/or desired research topics. Mean scores and summary rankings were obtained. Linear regressions were performed to contrast rankings concerning current and desired policies (policy gaps), and current and desired research (research gaps).
Relevance, feasibility, and research utilization were the top ranked criteria for prioritizing research. Technical capacity, research and development for new drugs, and responsiveness were the main policy gaps. Quality assurance, staff technical capacity, price regulation, out-of-pocket payments, and cost containment policies were the main research gaps. There was high level of coherence between current and desired policies: coefficients of determination (R<sup>2</sup>) varied from 0.46 (Health system structure; r = 0.68, P r = 0.93, P r = 0.71, P R<sup>2</sup> = 0.51), Pricing/affordability (r = 0.82, P R <sup>2 </sup> = 0.67), and Sustainable financing (r = 0.76, P R<sup>2</sup> = 0.58). Coherence was less for Health system structure (r = 0.61, P R<sup>2</sup> = 0.38).
This study combines metrics approaches, contributing to priority setting methodology development, with country and regional level stakeholder participation. Stakeholders received feedback with the results, and we hope to have contributed to the discussion and implementation of ATM research and policy priorities in LAC.
Azeredo, T.B.; Luiza, V.L.; Oliveira, M.A.; Emmerick, I.C.; Bigdeli, M. Stakeholders&#8217; perspectives on access-to-medicines policy and research priorities in Latin America and the Caribbean: face-to-face and web-based interviews. Health Research Policy and Systems (2014) 12 (1) 31. [DOI: 10.1186/1478-4505-12-31]