About this Research Topic
An accelerated growth of health spending began in the 1960s exceeding the historical 4% GDP threshold. This phenomenon was noticed early on in mature market economies led by the US and during the following decades spread to many global regions. Health policy makers became increasingly exposed to new harsh challenges in the uneasy task to provide universal health coverage and decent equity of access to the medical services. Among the most prominent demand-side issues are population aging, rise of non-communicable diseases and growing patient expectations. Supply-side causes include improvements in societal welfare and living standards, technological innovation in medicine and continuing rapid urbanization in developing world regions. Successful insurance-based risk sharing agreements made drug dispensing and medical service provision cheap or virtually free at the point of consumption in most OECD and many middle income countries. Also, the massive build-up of workforce capacities and strengthening of primary care and hospital networks contributed to the “supplier induced demand” phenomenon.
There is straightforward historical evidence of long term growth in pharmaceutical and overall health spending both in absolute and GDP % terms worldwide. The accumulated constraints resulting from skyrocketing costs of care were felt in many areas of clinical medicine even among the richest societies. Examples of expensive and hardly affordable novel therapeutic areas are orphan drugs indicated to treat rare diseases and targeted biologicals used in autoimmune disorders and cancer. Frequently denied access to even essential generic pharmaceuticals is still taking place, in particular in rural and suburban areas of low and middle income countries. These difficulties are worsened by the lack of evidence-based resource allocation strategies and less sustainable financing strategies.
This Research Topic was created with a mission to tackle the core challenges for the provision of new medical technologies across the globe. The objective is to reveal some of the hidden underlying causes of unequal access to the medicines as well as the growing proportion of out-of-pocket health spending in many world regions. In essence, the Topic belongs to the interdisciplinary sciences of pharmacoeconomics and health economics. Health policy considerations should be primarily focused on financing mechanisms and affordability of medicines and health care in general. Issues such as health insurance, reimbursement and cost-containment strategies, and inequities in health care access may also be considered. Scientific contributions from all relevant stakeholders including academia, industry and regulatory authorities are welcomed.
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