In medicine, spending more is not always better.

Drugmakers frequently warn that lower prices in the United States via direct pricing regulations will choke investments, and limit development and access to the most advanced medical therapies. But there’s little to indicate that a market awash in new drugs lead to better overall health outcomes.

A simple count-of-medicines is not indicative of how well a country's healthcare system functions.

New Zealand has some of the lowest drug prices in the world. A recent industry-funded study ranked the country last among developed nations in-terms of access to new medicines. Reviewing product sales data from around the world, the analysis identified 220 new molecular entities (NMEs) launched in 36 countries from 2011 to 2017. Nearly 90% (192) of newly launched medicines were available in the US.

In comparison, only 32 products (15%) were launched in New Zealand over the same period.

Considering drug manufacturers launched exactly 6-folds more drugs in the US, New Zealanders are astounding healthy. Life-expectancy for the “Kiwis” is no different to their industrialized counterparts. And, for most cancers, five-year survival rates for New Zealanders are among the highest in the world; overall, cancer patients there live two years longer than the developed-world average.

It's like the more money we spent on drugs, the more problems we see.

(Diagram via @BNNBloomberg)

 

Comments