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Enhancing medicine price transparency through price information mechanisms

Hinsch, M., Kaddar, M., & Schmitt, S. (2014)

Global Health, 10, 34.


BACKGROUND: Medicine price information mechanisms provide an essential tool to countries that seek a better understanding of product availability, market prices and price compositions of individual medicines. To be effective and contribute to cost savings, these mechanisms need to consider prices in their particular contexts when comparing between countries. This article discusses in what ways medicine price information mechanisms can contribute to increased price transparency and how this may affect access to medicines for developing countries.

METHODS: We used data collected during the course of a WHO project focusing on the development of a vaccine price and procurement information mechanism. The project collected information from six medicine price information mechanisms and interviewed data managers and technical experts on key aspects as well as observed market effects of these mechanisms.The reviewed mechanisms were broken down into categories including objective and target audience, as well as the sources, types and volumes of data included. Information provided by the mechanisms was reviewed according to data available on medicine prices, product characteristics, and procurement modalities.

RESULTS: We found indications of positive effects on access to medicines resulting from the utilization of the reviewed mechanisms. These include the uptake of higher quality medicines, more favorable results from contract negotiations, changes in national pricing policies, and the decrease of prices in certain segments for countries participating in or deriving data from the various mechanisms.

CONCLUSION: The reviewed mechanisms avoid the methodological challenges observed for medicine price comparisons that only use national price databases. They work with high quality data and display prices in the appropriate context of procurement modalities as well as the peculiarities of purchasing countries. Medicine price information mechanisms respond to the need for increased medicine price transparency and have the potential to contribute to improved access to medicines in developing countries.Additional research is required to explore more specific aspects. These include the market effects of dedicated donor funds for certain medicines to explain the driving force of user demands, and the effects of increased price transparency on different groups of medicines in context of the maturity of their markets.

Mots clés

Medicine price information mechanisms ; Price transparency ; Procurement ; Access to medicines