Comparison of spend on pharmaceuticals

Data from the OECD, published in October 2010, compares the proportion of total health expenditure spent on pharmaceuticals and other medical non-durables between different countries. This percentage differed widely between OECD countries in 2008, ranging from 7.6% to 31.6%.  Compared with many countries the UK came in low at 11.8%, a figure which has been falling since the year 2000. Only 3 other countries of those considered (Norway, Luxembourg and New Zealand) showed a lower proportional pharmaceutical spend than the UK.  Whilst of course percentage spend figures depend on the overall healthcare spend of the country, the UK also shows a low value compared to other countries when looking at the total spend per capita population.

Consideration of these data give cause for concern when considering proposed changes to the future pricing of medicines.  Will it be possible to achieve a scheme which both encourages innovation in medicine development and keeps the cost to the NHS low?

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