pharmaceutical systems

Managed entry agreements (MEAs)—a type of formal institutional arrangement between pharmaceutical companies and payers for sharing the risk with respect to the introduction of new pharmaceutical technologies—may expand access to new pharmaceutical technologies for non-communicable diseases. Although common in high-income countries (HICs), there is limited evidence of their use in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This article aims to document international experiences of countries implementing MEAs and potential barriers and facilitators for their use in LMICs. We reviewed published literature sources on MEAs over the past 10 years considering peer-reviewed publications and gray literature data. While the use of MEAs in LMICs is very limited, this could be the result of limited empirical evidence on its use and possibly due to the use of a different taxonomy for describing MEAs in these settings. Since there is limited evidence on their use in LMICs, the identified cases of implementation in HICs may serve to inform the interest on MEAs in resource limited settings. Therefore, further research in this field especially in the context of LMICs may be of value for the global community as all countries are embarking into fairer and sustainable Universal Health Coverage.

The success of the Namibian government’s “treatment for all” approach to control and stop the country’s HIV epidemic is dependent on an uninterrupted supply of antiretrovirals (ARVs) for people living with HIV. The public health system in Namibia, however, was constrained by an inefficient paper-based pharmaceutical information system resulting in unreliable and inaccessible data, contributing to persistent stock-outs of ARVs and other essential pharmaceuticals. This article describes the incremental implementation of an integrated pharmaceutical management information system to provide timely and reliable commodity and patient data for decision making in Namibia’s national antiretroviral therapy (ART) program and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS). Namibia’s pharmaceutical management information system demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of integrating related tools while maintaining their specialized functionality to address country-specific information and inventory management needs.

The success of the Namibian government's “treatment for all” approach to control and stop the country's HIV epidemic is dependent on an uninterrupted supply of antiretrovirals (ARVs) for people living with HIV. The public health system in Namibia, however, was constrained by an inefficient paper-based pharmaceutical information system resulting in unreliable and inaccessible data, contributing to persistent stock-outs of ARVs and other essential pharmaceuticals. This article describes the incremental implementation of an integrated pharmaceutical management information system to provide timely and reliable commodity and patient data for decision making in Namibia's national antiretroviral therapy (ART) program and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS). Namibia's pharmaceutical management information system demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of integrating related tools while maintaining their specialized functionality to address country-specific information and inventory management needs.

A strong pharmaceutical sector is a precondition for effective and efficient health care and financing systems, and thus for achieving the best possible health of a population. Supported by visionary, long-term donor funds, in conjunction with mutual trust, the USAID-funded Securing Ugandans' Rights to Essential Medicines (SURE) and Uganda Health Supply Chain (UHSC) program engaged in a close, more than 10 year-long (in 2018) collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Uganda. Over time, the partnership implemented numerous multi-pronged comprehensive changes in the pharmaceutical sector and conducted research to document successes and failures. We describe the evolution and key characteristics of the SURE/UHSC interventions.

An extensive body of work on access to and use of medicines has resulted in an assortment of tools measuring various elements of pharmaceutical systems. Until now however, there has been little attempt to conceptualize a pharmaceutical system as an entity and define its strengthening in a way that allows for measuring systems strengthening. The narrow focus of available tools limits their value in ascertaining which interventions result in stronger, more resilient systems. We sought to address this shortcoming by revisiting the current definitions, frameworks and assessment tools related to pharmaceutical systems. We conducted a comprehensive literature review and consulted with select pharmaceutical experts. On the basis of our review, we propose that a pharmaceutical system consists of all structures, people, resources, processes, and their interactions within the broader health system that aim to ensure equitable and timely access to safe, effective, quality pharmaceutical products and related services that promote their appropriate and cost-effective use to improve health outcomes. We further propose that pharmaceutical systems strengthening is the process of identifying and implementing strategies and actions that achieve coordinated and sustainable improvements in the critical components of a pharmaceutical system to make it more responsive and resilient and to enhance its performance for achieving better health outcomes. Finally, we established that, in addition to system performance and resilience, seven components of the pharmaceutical system are critical for measuring pharmaceutical systems strengthening: pharmaceutical products and related services; policy, laws and governance; regulatory systems; innovation, research and development, manufacturing, and trade; financing; human resources; and information.

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