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OECD - Pharmaceutical Innovation and Access to Medicines

  • 30/11/2018
  • Articles

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) has just published a study on Pharmaceutical Innovation and Access to Medicines (the “Study” - available here: Pharmaceutical Innovation and Access to Medicines). The Study forms a response to a request by 35 member countries to prepare a report detailing the challenges for governments in ensuring that their populations have access to novel medicines at a reasonable cost while at the same time maintaining the pharmaceutical sector’s capacity for innovation.
The Study offers a three-pronged answer in describing, firstly, the performance of the current system, before, secondly, determining five broad principles that the OECD believes should inform its member countries’ policies and, thirdly, offering five concrete policy options.


Broad Principles        
The five principles which, according to the OECD, should always guide member countries in defining their health policies are: 

  • Increasing the value of spending on medicines.
  • Ensuring access in countries at different levels of development by applying and/or maintaining “tiered” or differential pricing.
  • Maintaining a rules-based system.
  • Fostering competition in both on-patent and off-patent markets.
  • Promoting better communication among stakeholders on matters such as industry activities, costs of research and development and forthcoming products. 

Policy Options
Against this backdrop, the Study puts forward the following policy options: 

  • Involving stakeholders in efforts to reduce the cost of research and development and accelerate market access.
  • Increase spending efficiency – This covers a broad category of possible measures, including vexed issues such as cooperation in health technology assessment and collaborative efforts in price negotiations and procurement (provided member countries are of similar income level), but also measuring the actual performance of reimbursed medicines. The Study furthermore advocates increased competition in both on-patent and off-patent markets and is also a proponent of bundled payments for episodes of care.
  • Determine willingness to pay for new treatments – One significant aspect under this rubrique is optimising the use of Managed Entry Agreements. For example, outcomes should be better defined and measured, while the results should be shared with the scientific community, prescribers and patients.
  • Develop new incentives for innovation.
  • Strengthen the information base.         


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