Equitable access to high-cost pharmaceuticals

March 14, 2018, University of Huddersfield
Professor Zaheer Babar's book. Credit: University of Huddersfield

Access to the best medicine has been enshrined as a human right. But many healthcare systems are already spending half of their budgets on drugs, while ageing populations in countries such as the UK are creating increased demand for high-cost treatment. So how can that access be made affordable? A new book edited by a University of Huddersfield professor explores the issue.

Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar is Professor in Medicines and Healthcare at the University's Department of Pharmacy. He is globally recognised for his research in pharmaceutical policy and practice. His latest book, which has contributions from almost 30 experts around the world, is the 238-page Equitable Access to High-Cost Pharmaceuticals.

It begins with an overview - one of the chapters co-authored by Professor Babar himself - and subsequent chapters examine the issue of high cost medicines in a wide variety of countries, including England, Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal and Europe as a whole. The emphasis of the book is on higher income countries, although there is also a chapter on in Africa.

"According to the UN, to medicine is a , like access to water or sanitation. So we don't need to treat it like other commodities, and that's where the tension arises," said Professor Babar.

"In some countries, 50 per cent of the health budget is going on high-cost drugs such as anti-cancer , drugs for immunological disorders, blood disorders or rheumatoid arthritis, for example. Who has the responsibility for making these medicines affordable?"

The new book, by analysing the solutions developed in a wide range of countries, will be useful for funding agencies and researchers around the world, enabling them to make comparisons, said Professor Babar.

"The issue is going to be more complex in the future, because people are living longer, meaning they will have more serious illness. So funding of high cost medicines, taking the biggest chunk of health budgets, is going to be more crucial."

Professor Babar describes the newly-published Equitable Access to High-Cost Pharmaceuticals as an exercise in documenting current practice, establishing a baseline. A follow-up book - now in the planning stage - will offer solutions and recommendations.

But among the issues explored in the current book is the funding and reimbursement of . New models are needed, said Professor Babar.

"The pharmacy industry is charging so much because it argues that it is investing a lot in R&D. But there is a lot of public money involved in drug development - through universities for example - so the public is effectively paying twice."

This could lead to a case for the price of drugs to be delinked from the cost of their development, said Professor Babar. The new book has chapters that explore issues such as and universal access to essential medicines.

Explore further: Challenges to equitable access to medicines

More information: www.elsevier.com/books/equitab … ar/978-0-12-811945-7

Related Stories

Challenges to equitable access to medicines

June 11, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Access to medicines by vulnerable groups in the community, increasing medicine costs, and the demand for new medicines are some of the challenges identified in an independent study of priority medicine ...

Asthma medicines a struggle for many countries

October 16, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The availability, pricing and affordability of three essential asthma medicines varies greatly according to a new study of 52 low-and middle-income countries

Funding a set of essential medicines for low- and middle-income countries

November 8, 2016
As the world moves toward universal health coverage, the question arises: How can governments ensure equitable access to essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries?

Tackling the global post-code lottery: new research explores how law can help tackle health epidemics

November 23, 2017
Research from the University of Warwick is set to improve global health by helping lawyers to think more strategically about the ways in which the law can be used to improve access to life-saving medicines.

Study reveals inequality in access to treatment in Asia

November 20, 2017
The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) opened its 3rd ESMO Asia Congress today, once again in Singapore, attracting close to 3000 regional and international cancer doctors with leading researchers and experts to ...

Universal public coverage of essential medicines would improve access, save billions

February 27, 2017
Publicly funding essential medicines could cover the cost of nearly half of all prescriptions in Canada, removing financial barriers for Canadians while saving $3 billion per year.

Recommended for you

Research study encourages hospitals to reduce number of paper documents created

March 20, 2018
After collecting nearly 600 kilograms of papers from recycling bins at five Toronto hospitals, researchers at St. Michael's Hospital found 2,687 documents containing personal health or other information that should instead ...

Limiting shifts for medical trainees affects satisfaction, but not educational outcomes

March 20, 2018
Limiting first-year medical residents to 16-hour work shifts, compared to "flexing" them to allow for some longer shifts, generally makes residents more satisfied with their training and work-life balance, but their training ...

Fasting diets reduce important risk factor for cardiovascular disease

March 19, 2018
Intermittent energy restriction diets such as the 5:2 diet clears fat from the blood quicker after eating meals compared with daily calorie restriction diets, reducing an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, ...

Small changes in diet can have a big impact on health

March 19, 2018
How's that New Year's resolution coming along? Getting ready for summer and want to look your best? Just want to feel better physically? Whatever your motivation, Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, an assistant professor of nutrition ...

Multiple screen use affects snack choices

March 19, 2018
Using multiple screen devices simultaneously while snacking may influence food choices, according to a new Michigan State University study.

Chemicals in lavender and tea tree oil appear to be hormone disruptors

March 17, 2018
A new study lends further evidence to a suspected link between abnormal breast growth in young boys—called prepubertal gynecomastia—and regular exposure to lavender or tea tree oil, by finding that key chemicals in these ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.