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Nordic Economic Policy Review

Challenges in health care financing and provision

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The Nordic Economic Policy Review is published by the Nordic Council of Ministers and addresses policy issues in a way that is useful for in-formed non-specialists as well as for professional economists. All articles are commissioned from leading professional economists and are subject to peer review prior to publication. The review appears twice a year. Content: Challenges in health care financing and provision - Tor Iversen and Sverre A.C. Kittelsen Ageing populations: More care or just later care? - Terkel Christiansen, Jørgen Lauridsen and Mickael Bech Comment by Anna Lilja Gunnarsdottir Lifestyle, health and costs – what does available evidence suggest? - Kristian Bolin Comment by Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir The economics of long-term care: A survey - Helmuth Cremer, Pierre Pestieau and Gregory Ponthiere Comment by Þórólfur Matthíasson The role of primary health care in controlling the cost of specialist health care - Stephen Beales and Peter C. Smith Comment by Helgi Tómasson Payments in support of effective primary care for chronic conditions - Randall P. Ellis and Arlene S. Ash Comment by Jørgen T. Lauridsen An economic assessment of price rationing versus non-price rationing of health care - Luigi Siciliani Comment by Mickael Bech Should pharmaceutical costs be curbed? - Kurt R. Brekke, Dag Morten Dalen and Steinar Strøm Comment by Helgi Tómasson Productivity differences in Nordic hospitals: Can we learn from Finland? - Clas Rehnberg and Unto Häkkinen Comment by Thorvaldur Gylfason

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Comment on Brekke, Dalen and Strøm: Should pharmaceutical costs be curbed?

The paper by Brekke, Dalen and Strøm starts by reporting some facts on pharmaceutical sales in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in the year 2011. It is stated that the pharmaceutical cost per capita ranges from 310 to 400 euros. The authors mention growth of sales, and correctly state that not much can be inferred on data for only two years. The sales are decomposed into price and volume and it is stated that Norway tends to have the cheapest drugs. They correctly cite that exchanging, say, Swedish prices and Norwegian prices would affect price indices as the consumption weights differ between the two countries. The authors also discuss the impact of packaging. The drugs are packed differently among the countries which adds to the heterogeneity. The volume of the consumption is highest in Sweden but lowest in Denmark. The low consumption and high sales in Denmark are due to the high price of drugs in Denmark. All these facts support the claim that an international comparison is difficult.

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