WHO-HAI Medicines Prices Project
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Action International (HAI) project "Medicine Prices - a new
approach to measurement" offers guidance on the collection and analysis of price information for a basket
of widely used medicines at
The project disseminates an electronic
workbook and a set of methods covering sample design, field visits to pharmacy outlets, entry and analysis
of price data, and interpretation and presentation of results. Furthermore, it sketches broad policy options
to achieve more affordable prices. The WHO/HAI approach encourages comparison of prices between innovator
brands and their generic equivalents and an examination of the components that combine to make up the retail
price. It proposes a benchmark for treatment affordability, and characterizes market availability of targeted
medicines. The project’s efforts derive from the widely felt need for greater transparency on prices in the
global medicines marketplace.
Drs. Jeanne Madden and Dennis Ross-Degnan provide technical support to WHO and HAI on methodological development.
In 2005–2006, Dr. Madden collaborated with Edson Meza and his colleagues at HAI Peru on the design and
implementation of a large study to validate the WHO-HAI survey methodology. Peru’s Medicine Prices survey
expanded the traditional WHO/HAI sample of outlets to more remote locations in order to assess potential
differences in results by region as well as the representativeness of the standard sampling frame. In
addition, Peru collected data on all medicines in three therapeutic classes in order to assess potential
biases due to the limited target list. During the same period, Dr. Madden conducted large scale analyses of
the WHO/HAI database of surveys to date in order to examine patterns of medicine availability and price
variation and their implications for sampling design. Together, these tasks demonstrated inherent strengths
in the WHO/HAI method, led to refinements in the sampling design, and permitted several new types of price
data analyses. In late 2007, an extension of these validation activities is planned, including a publishable
manuscript on the Peru results, additional work using the survey database to construct confidence intervals
around common Medicine Prices statistics, and guidance materials on statistical issues for survey managers.
Dr. Ross-Degnan continues advising the leadership of the WHO/HAI Medicine Prices across the full range of
current project activities.