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Regulating drug prices: where do we go from here?

By Nick Bloom and John Van Reenen

Abstract

This paper examines the arguments for changing the ways that UK drug prices are regulated. In the UK, NHS pharmaceutical expenditures on branded drugs, currently worth about £3 billion a year, have been regulated by the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) since 1978. We argue that, in publicly funded healthcare systems, pharmaceutical price regulation is necessitated by a tendency towards excessive government expenditure because of over-prescription and the monopoly power of firms with on-patent drugs. We briefly explain the operation of the PPRS. which is based on rate-of-return regulation, and discuss its merits and drawbacks. We then consider five alternative pricing systems: free pricing, therapeutic benefit pricing, international reference pricing, therapeutic reference pricing and RPI - X price regulation. However, we reject all these alternatives in favour of a reformed PPRS. We suggest three potential reforms of the PPRS: an RPI - X cost allowance if feasible or a widening of the rate-of-return bands otherwise; the introduction of a marketing innovation allowance; and greater regulatory transparency

Topics: HB Economic Theory, RA Public aspects of medicine
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Institute for Fiscal Studies
Year: 1998
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.1998.tb00290.x
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:1461
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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