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Rui Liu



“Where and how do you buy medicines?” A pilot survey of consumption strategies among the public in Sweden


  • Susanne Lundin
  • Rui Liu

Summary, in English

Substandard and falsified (SF) medical products are a major danger to public health. They affect every region of the world, and have been identified in all major therapeutic categories. Studies from medicine, pharmacology, law and public health dominate this research area with a focus on the supply side. However, the spread of SF medical products cannot be fully understood without information about the demand side or a sociocultural perspective on market formation. The aim of this short report is to present findings from a pilot study that examines the attitudes of the Swedish public regarding consumption of medicines.

Methods: We conducted a pilot survey in 2016 “Where and how do you buy medicines?” using LimeSurvey, an open-source online survey software. In total 155 respondents completed the survey.
Results: The majority of respondents turn to doctors within healthcare for prescription-only medicines (POM). Simultaneously, some respondents would consider buying POMs without prior contact with experts even if medicines may come from unsafe sources.

Conclusions: There is a tendency that people move away from formal healthcare towards an unregulated market. In parallel, people's approach to doctors becomes more personalized and pragmatic than in former patriarchal relationships. Risk becomes a negotiable concept.

Keywords: Substandard and falsified medical products, consumption strategies, conception of risk, Swedish public


  • Division of Ethnology
  • The Cultural Studies Group of Neuroscience
  • Department of Service Studies

Publishing year





Journal of Public Health

Document type

Journal article


Oxford University Press


  • Ethnology
  • Other Social Sciences


  • Substandard and falsified medical products
  • consumption strategies
  • conception of risk
  • Swedish public




  • Cultures of Consumption
  • Medical humanities research node
  • Biomedicine at the borders. Ethnography as a model to investigate biomedicine’s moral and legal grey areas and to provide a basis for international actions (
  • Falsified Medicines. What the public says and professionals know – knowledge exchange providing a basis for actions.
  • Falsified medicines in a multi cultural society. Importance of knowledge exchange between the public and expertise.

Research group

  • The Cultural Studies Group of Neuroscience


  • ISSN: 1741-3850