OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers

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This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market and social policy studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.


Pharmaceutical Policies in OECD Countries

Reconciling Social and Industrial Goals

Regulation of the pharmaceutical sector needs to reconcile private and social objectives. Public intervention pursues multiple goals which relate to both health and industry policy. Many OECD Governments are also heavily involved as buyers of pharmaceuticals in publicly-financed health care systems. This paper describes recent trends in pharmaceutical expenditure and financing in a first chapter. A second chapter discusses the economics of pharmaceutical markets. A third chapter provides a review of national policies and their attempts to balance public and private objectives.

Pharmaceutical expenditure has been rising steadily as a share of GDP since 1970. However, total health expenditure has also risen. As a result, pharmaceutical expenditure has, on average, maintained its share of total health expenditure in the OECD, close to 15 %. Across countries, pharmaceutical expenditure per capita depends on relative incomes but is also influenced by institutional features. The pharmaceutical ...


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