Friday, November 14, 2014

Drug pricing 101

In his book "Reinventing the bazaar. A natural history of markets", John McMillan says:
Market design consists of the mechanisms that organize buying and selling; channels for the flow of information; state-set laws and regulations that define property rights and sustain contracting; and the market’s culture, its self-regulating norms, codes, and conventions governing behavior. While the design does not control what happens in the market—as already noted, free decision-making is key— it shapes and supports the process of transacting.
If we look at the pharmaceutical market, there are unique features. The government role is at the same time the "market designer" and mostly the monopsonist. The price setting mechanism relies on multiple regulations that evolve according to circumstances. For example, since 2012 there has been no information about patented drug prices accepted for public funding. It sounds quite weird in a moment that everybody is proud of boosting transparency. The debates over the new pricing decree are still more strange. The current mess was explained some months ago in this op-ed. The uncertainty now also embraces pharma-distribution, pharmacists complain about the system.
Such a pricing system is explained in  this presentation (details about pricing in p.6). As far as it is unsatisfactory for everybody, it needs to be rebuilt. My suggestion is that there is a need to start from scratch. John McMillan would say that we have to look for a clever market designer to reinvent drug pricing as soon as possible.


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