A Systematic Review of Pharmaceutical Pricing Policies in Developing Countries

Nada Abdel Rida, Mohamed Izham Mohamed Ibrahim, Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar, Yaw Owusu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)



A systematic review was conducted to summarize government strategies aimed at controlling pharmaceutical prices in developing countries and their effects on relevant outcomes, and to qualitatively analyse eligible studies of pricing policy and their impact on expenditure and medicine prices.

Several databases, grey literature and Google Scholar were systematically searched, and reference lists of relevant studies were screened for full-text studies published in Arabic or English between January 2000 and March 2016. Studies describing government pharmaceutical pricing strategies in developing countries and their effect were considered eligible.

Key findings:
Twenty-one studies were included in the explorative synthesis: sixteen covered Asian countries, three covered African countries and three from Latin and South America. Identified policies covered disease-specific and essential medicines with some countries extending it to all medicine classes. Markup regulation (n = 7) was the most commonly used, followed by external reference pricing (n = 6) and cost-plus (n = 5), promotion of generics use (n = 3), while tax exemptions were the least used policy (n = 2). Six of the twenty-one studies were included in the qualitative synthesis. Markup regulation was similarly predominant in this latter synthesis. Although the implemented policies showed a measure of success, medicine prices appeared to be influenced by poor legislative framework, lack of pre-/post-implementation activities and noncompliance by various stakeholders.

Various internationally recognized pharmaceutical pricing policies are implemented in developing countries; however, these policies are not optimally adopted. Policymakers should tailor the pharmaceutical pricing policy to the nation taking into consideration macro- and microeconomic factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Issue number4
Early online date14 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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