A recent study indicates that millions of low- and middle-income people in most part of the globe will go down below poverty line for buying expensive yet essential medicines.

Headed by Laurens Nien at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the study reveals that people would be pushed below income level of $1.25 or $2 (World Bank poverty indicator) a day for buying four important, widely used medicines.

The findings showed that there is a greater need to produce cheaper generic drugs in poor countries. The drugs that top the demand list are Salbutamol inhaler, used for asthma, Glibenclamide for diabetes, Atenolol for high blood pressure and antibiotic Amoxicillin. Using data from World Bank and the World Health Organization, the researchers have also come up with impoverishment rates for these medicines in 16 low- and middle-income countries where public sector provisions have been irregular.

For example, in Middle East country Yemen seven percent of people live on less than $1.25 a day where buying branded Glibenclamide (sold as Daonil by Sanofi-Aventis) would impoverish another 22 percent, but buying the cheapest generic equivalent would only push another 3 percent below the poverty line.

Similarly, in African country Nigeria, amoxicillin is unaffordable to around 56 percent of the population who live on less than $1.25 per day. A further 23 percent of Nigerians would be pushed into poverty by having to buy branded version made by GlaxoSmithKline, while only another 12 percent would be impoverished by buying the cheapest generic version.