Comprehensive taxonomy and worldwide trends in pharmaceutical policies in relation to country income status

BMC Health Services Research
(Accessed 27 May 2017)

Research article
Comprehensive taxonomy and worldwide trends in pharmaceutical policies in relation to country income status
Maniadakis, G. Kourlaba, J. Shen and A. Holtorf
BMC Health Services Research 2017 17:371
Published on: 25 May 2017
Rapidly evolving socioeconomic and technological trends make it challenging to improve access, effectiveness and efficiency in the use of pharmaceuticals. This paper identifies and systematically classifies the prevailing pharmaceutical policies worldwide in relation to a country’s income status.
A literature search was undertaken to identify and taxonomize prevailing policies worldwide. Countries that apply those policies and those that do not were then grouped by income status.
Pharmaceutical policies are linked to a country’s socioeconomics. Developed countries have universal coverage and control pharmaceuticals with external and internal price referencing systems, and indirect price–cost controls; they carry out health technology assessments and demand utilization controls. Price-volume and risk-sharing agreements are also evolving. Developing countries are underperforming in terms of coverage and they rely mostly on restrictive state controls to regulate prices and expenditure.
There are significant disparities worldwide in the access to pharmaceuticals, their use, and the reimbursement of costs. The challenge in high-income countries is to maintain access to care whilst dealing with trends in technology and aging. Essential drugs should be available to all; however, many low- and middle-income countries still provide most of their population with only poor access to medicines. As economies grow, there should be greater investment in pharmaceutical care, looking to the policies of high-income countries to increase efficiency. Pharmaceutical companies could also develop special access schemes with low prices to facilitate coverage in low-income countries.