This study evaluated the drug expenditures of seven western industrialized countries in order to draw lessons about balancing the need to contain the costs of public health insurance programs while ensuring access to pharmaceuticals. The project noted that in wooing pharmaceutical research and development, governments also face corporate demands for concessions to policies designed to manage pharmaceutical expenditures. This broad-ranging study covered economic policies, pharmaceutical industry practices, world trade organization policies, public health insurance programs, and price management strategies. Key findings include the fact that in all countries studied, expenditures on pharmaceuticals are growing at a greater rate than are overall health care expenditures. The report concludes that the challenges facing Canadians regarding pharmaceuticals will be ethical and political. As a result, there will be a need for setting priorities so as to balance public and private interests, for defining the role of cost-sharing, and for deciding the limits of insurability.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.