Edited by Lahcen Achy and Susan Joekes
The objective of healthcare policy regarding medicines is to guarantee the supply of safe and effective products at a reasonable price, and ensure that patients have access to and can afford them. Access to healthcare, in its broader sense, is one of the most basic needs, an inviolable right of every human as acknowledged by the Constitution of Vietnam. Despite constitutional commitment, the achievement of this objective tends to be constrained by a number of factors that range from poverty and unaffordable market prices, absence of or non-binding regulation on price mark-ups, abuse of intellectual property rights, lack of an effective generic substitution policy, excessive reliance on out-of-pocket payments for health expenses and shortage of public information. Competition policy represents a key tool, in addition to other legal provisions and institutional mechanisms, to secure access to medicines for the population and achieve healthcare policy’s objectives. Indeed, by promoting fair and free competition and preventing anticompetitive practices, competition policy can contribute significantly to protect patients’ interests and improve their social welfare.
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