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Regulating drug prices: where do we go from here?

Bloom, Nick and Van Reenen, John (1998) Regulating drug prices: where do we go from here? Fiscal Studies, 19 (3). pp. 321-342. ISSN 0143-5671

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.1998.tb00290.x


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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1998 Institute for Fiscal Studies
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 00:12

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