Healthy economy?

The pharmaceutical industry’s important role in the OECD economy is reflected in expenditure, with a total of US$569 billion on pharmaceuticals (excluding pharmaceuticals for in-patients) in 2005.

While France and Spain consumed the highest number of pharmaceuticals per person, the US had the highest expenditure at $235 billion, accounting for more than 40% of the OECD total; Japan in second spent $71 billion, while France spent just $39 billion and Spain $21 billion.

Click here for larger graph.

Since the 1990s the growth in pharmaceutical spending was 5.6% per year, significantly higher than the 4.2% annual growth for total health expenditure during the same period while at the same time GDP grew at an annual rate of 3%.

If calculated on a per person basis, the US was in the lead at $792, but otherwise expenditure variations between many OECD countries is not very great, with several countries in the $400-600 per head range. On the other hand, in Mexico per capita spending was only $144, just 18% of the US spending level, and about $100 less than in Poland. Turkey’s expenditure of $141 was calculated based on manufacturer prices, which may underestimate final spending.

These figures are from a new OECD report which compares price levels to assess how pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement policies have contributed to the achievement of certain health policy objectives, including availability, accessibility and innovation.

Pharmaceutical Pricing Policies in a Global Market is available at www.oecd.org/bookshop, ISBN 978-92-64-04414-2

©OECD Observer No 269 October 2008




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