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This paper discusses the purchasing of pharmaceuticals as a key component of costeffective and equitable healthcare delivery. Pharmaceuticals account for a high, sometimes the dominant share of health expenditures in developing countries, but the desired health outcomes can only be achieved if the adequate medicines reach the right people and are used in the correct way. This requires purchasing arrangements that take into account the information asymmetry between patients and providers, ensure selection of effective, safe and affordable medicines and set economic incentives in a way that encourages rational drug use. The organizational and institutional frameworks define the roles of the various public and private stakeholders and establish the rules and regulations for registration, import, prescription and distribution of pharmaceuticals within which active purchasing can take place. While there is a trend towards more active purchasing arrangements for pharmaceuticals, the move from passive to active purchasing, using up-to-date information systems to link inputs and outcomes, and pooled purchasing arrangements to optimize the use of limited resources, has been slow.

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The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank


Washington, D.C.


resource allocation and purchasing, health care financing, pharmaceuticals, access


Health and Medical Administration | Other Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences | Pharmacoeconomics and Pharmaceutical Economics | Pharmacy Administration, Policy and Regulation


This is a Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) Discussion Paper published by The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and The World Bank in 2004.


The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Purchasing Pharmaceuticals (Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) Discussion Paper)