Competition Policies and Consumer Welfare Corporate Strategies and Consumer Prices in Developing Countries
Edited by Lahcen Achy and Susan Joekes
Chapter 6: The distribution of pharmaceuticals in Jamaica
Prices of pharmaceutical products have considerable implications for the quality of the consumer’s life. Poor and vulnerable population segments in developing countries have relatively high incidence of certain chronic ailments. Providing them with better access to health services is of critical importance. To a large extent, achieving this objective is associated with the availability of affordable medicines. World Health Organization (WHO) figures suggest that one-third of the developing world’s people are unable to receive or purchase essential medicines on a regular basis. Three factors explain this finding: their low income, their poor coverage by health insurance and excessive prices of medicines. Generic drugs, produced without a licence from the innovator company and marketed after the patent expiry, are usually interchangeable with brand-name products and can provide greater access to healthcare for all. Generics are frequently as effective as brand-name products and much cheaper, which often make them the only option many people can afford. The evidence shows that competition between drug companies and generic producers has led to cutting down the cost of drugs more effectively than governments’ talks with drug companies.
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