Pharmaceuticals are an essential component of health care. But for many people in low- and middle-income countries, access to the medicines they need to prevent or treat severe illnesses is limited.
Typical problems are lack of availability, costs that exceed the individual’s purchasing power or lack of competent “agents” – health workers that are well trained to give the correct advice on which medicines to take. Pharmaceutical policy is the part of health policy that aims at addressing these problems and increasing access to safe, effective and affordable medicines for all patients. There are many obstacles against achieving these goals. Such obstacles can arise from financial interests on the side of suppliers and health care providers, who may benefit from charging higher prices and issuing more prescriptions than might be justified from a clinical and economic viewpoint. Or from rogue suppliers trying to introduce low quality or counterfeit drugs into markets with less effective regulation. Also, corruption and ineffective bureaucracies sometimes interfere with well intended programs to offer access to essential medicines for the poor.
This book offers policy makers a hands-on approach, tested in the World Bank’s field work in many countries, for assessing the pharmaceutical sector, recognizing typical “patterns of dysfunction” and developing strategies to quickly deal with the most urgent problems while at the same time building a platform for sustainable long term policy. It offers examples from a variety of low- and middle income countries and provides practical assessment tools for policy makers. The book ends with the author’s outlook on future developments in this complex policy field.