Across OECD countries, pharmaceutical spending was around US$800 billion in 2013, accounting for about 20% of total health spending on average (hospital consumption and retail).

This paper ‘Pharmaceutical expenditure and policies: past trends and future challenges‘ examines the drivers of recent spending trends, highlighting differences across therapeutic classes. While the consumption of medicines continues to increase and to push pharmaceutical spending up, cost-containment policies and patent expiries of a number of top-selling products have exerted downward pressure on pharmaceutical expenditures in recent years.

The paper also looks at emerging challenges for policy makers in the management of pharmaceutical spending. The proliferation of high-cost specialty medicines will be a major driver of health spending growth in the coming years. While some of these medicines bring great benefits to patients, others provide only marginal improvements. This challenges the efficiency of pharmaceutical spending.

To download the paper on pharmaceutical expenditure from the website