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The Price of Drugs: How Medical, Economic, Industrial and Political Dimensions Interact

Gérard DE POUVOURVILLE * Professeur honoraire, Département d'économie, ESSEC Business School. Contact :

The coronavirus pandemic has once again raised controversies calling into question the pricing practices of drug manufacturers, a subject that regularly emerges with therapeutic innovations. Biotechnologies for the treatment of cancers and autoimmune diseases, innovative treatments for hepatitis C and now gene and cell therapies have both opened real hopes in the treatment of these pathologies and stoked criticism on an industry. accused of making comfortable profits on health. The purpose of this article is educational: it explains the industrial rationale behind the pricing methods for new drugs, oriented by the achievement of profits allowing both to remunerate shareholders and to reinvest in the development of new products. Mirroring this rationale, to present two models of European “payers”, France and the United Kingdom, whose objective is to offer access to innovative treatments to their population while controlling expenditure on reimbursed drugs and trying to find a good balance between the sustainability of their financing systems and the encouragement of innovation.

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