Consumer purchasing of medicines in Malta: An insight to how the Maltese population access medicines

  • Corinne Bowman

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


Background: Malta has an average of 3-4 private pharmacies per locality, providing ready access to medicines, however, online purchasing of medicines also occurs. The aim of this study was to highlight trends in purchasing of medicines amongst the Maltese population. Methods: A mixed methods approach was used. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on a random sample of 1996 residents selected from the Maltese electoral register. An English/Maltese questionnaire was designed to gather data about sources of purchasing prescription-only-medicines (POM) and over-thecounter (OTC) medicines separately. This was followed by five semi-structured interviews with participants from the survey. Results: The response rate was 22% (N=444, 264 women) and respondents had a mean age of 52 years (SD+/-17). Only two participants reported ever purchasing POMs online, while 4.3% purchased OTCs including vitamins, supplements and herbal combinations. This finding was supported by the interviews, in which all participants expressed disregard towards internet purchasing of medicines. The main reason for online purchasing, expressed in both the survey and interviews, was lack of local availability and higher price. Whereas 89% of respondents provided a reason for not purchasing online, with 45% of these citing safety as their primary reason. Age significantly affected whether participants ever thought of purchasing medicines online, (χ2 (4) = 20.208, p<.001) with those aged 18- 34years (42%) and 45-54years (37%) most likely to report so. Educational level was significantly associated with a belief that it was not safe to buy online (χ2 (2) = 13.952, p .001) with the most educated being more likely to report this. Conclusions: The majority of Maltese people purchase their medicines from their local pharmacy and do not purchase their medicines online, citing the risks that may be associated with internet purchasing of prescription medicines. There is a belief that it is not safe to purchase medicines from online sources.
Date of Award10 Sept 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDr Hannah Family (Supervisor), Dr Hugo Agius Muscat (Supervisor) & Prof Maria Cordon (Supervisor)


  • internet use
  • medicines
  • Purchasing and supply

Cite this