What are the implications of policies increasing transparency of prices paid for pharmaceuticals?
Policy action on net price transparency (NPT) for pharmaceuticals – the public disclosure of prices paid to manufacturers – is not straightforward:
- empirical evidence on its effect is extremely limited
- some stakeholders are concerned that moves towards increased price transparency would have a negative impact on accessibility
- payers in different health systems may consider measures to increase price transparency as more or less necessary to increase affordable access to medicines.
Any movement towards NPT requires a re-examination of the established trade-offs in pharmaceutical policy in Europe and worldwide. It is important to consider, for example:
- the differing needs and negotiating capacities across countries
- the complexities of the interactions between stakeholders
- the way the process of implementation may shape the policy’s impact
- the possible implications for innovation.
Increasing transparency in the pharmaceutical system will require greater European and international collaboration – strengthening and going beyond existing initiatives. It also demands a clear focus on maintaining access, innovation and sustainability. Recent experience with joint purchasing, such as in the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, may bolster similar initiatives in future.
Sabine Vogler, the head of the Pharmacoeconomics Department of the Austrian National Public Health Institute (GÖG) was a co-author of the Policy Brief.
Last update: 20 May 2022