World Health Organization
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Learn More About:
Medicines and Insurance Coverage (MedIC) Initiative

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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 www.haiweb.org/medicineprices/. 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.

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MedIC Initiative Courses conducted in Accra, Ghana , November 16-25, 2008 and in Beijing, China, March 22-31, 2009