Intended for healthcare professionals

Achieving fair pricing of medicines

There are many public health problems for which there are no treatments. Drug development pipelines are full but mostly focus on potentially profitable diseases that mainly affect high-income countries. In short, the free market does not effectively provide affordable access to medicines for all.

Affordability and innovation can coexist so that patients can sustainably access medicines. However, it is challenging to find agreement on a single definition of fair pricing, and health systems have struggled to achieve a balance between affordability and need. This collection of articles outlines evidence and further research that is needed to balance affordability and innovation of medicines.

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Can affordability and innovation coexist for medicines?
Improved transparency is essential to determine what is fair writes Allison Colbert et al.


Defining the concept of fair pricing for medicines
Suerie Moon and colleagues consider what makes a fair price for both buyers and sellers

Strategies to achieve fairer prices for generic and biosimilar medicines
Early market entry and rapid uptake of quality assured generic and biosimilars are key to improving access to medicines, say Alessandra Ferrario and colleagues

Pricing of pharmaceuticals is becoming a major challenge for health systems
Manufacturers using their market power to maximise profits results in prices that are unjustifiable and unaffordable, argue Steven Morgan and colleagues

New business models for research and development with affordability requirements are needed to achieve fair pricing of medicines
For research and development to systematically deliver fairly priced medicines, new approaches to financing and organisation are needed, and affordability must be integrated into push, pull, and pooling mechanisms, say Fatima Suleman and colleagues

Price transparency is a step towards sustainable access in middle income countries
Tania Cernuschi and colleagues show how information from the Market Information for Access to Vaccines database is strengthening the ability of middle income countries to negotiate with vaccine producers

Medicines with one seller and many buyers: strategies to increase the power of the payer
Andrew Rintoul and colleagues argue that collaboration and transparency increase the market power of buyers who face a monopoly

This collection of articles was proposed by the WHO and commissioned by The BMJ. The BMJ retained full editorial control over external peer review, editing, and publication of these articles. Open access fees are funded by the WHO.