The regulation of pharmaceutical markets is an important policy concern in many countries, and is generally undertaken with cost containment, efficiency, quality and equity objectives in mind. This article presents an overview of the demand-side and supply-side regulatory measures that have been introduced in four European countries, namely France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. More specifically, after considering some of the trends in pharmaceutical expenditure in these four countries over recent decades, the article considers the policies that have been introduced to influence patient demand, health care provider behaviour and the pharmaceutical industry. Since many of the policies are concurrently applied, it is difficult to assess the isolated impact of each, particularly because the effect of particular policies may often be country specific. However, it is clear that there is no overriding perfect solution to balancing the cost containment, efficiency, quality and equity objectives in pharmaceutical policy. No one policy or policy combination is right for all countries, and different countries will need to meet their own objectives through policy approaches that reflect their own particular environment
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