Can we Afford the Medicines
we Need: An Ethical
Gwent Health Authority, Pontypool, Gwent, UK & Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
People continue to expect ever more from their health service. This, together with continuing advances in technology and medicine, explains in part why health care has the potential to become increasingly more expensive. Monies for the provision of health care are not infinite and in every health care system there is a point where resources are no longer adequate and decisions about competing demands have to be made. This situation is largely inevitable in a state run health care system such as that in the UK, where it is acknowledged that the task of government is not to provide the best health care for the least possible cash but to provide, via taxation, the best possible health care from within a limited budget (1).
This chapter looks at the issues behind the management of expenditure on medicines and highlights some of the dilemmas for those who make purchasing decisions. In particular the link between expenditure on medicines and health gain, whether the increased prescription of medicines is fuelled by need, and the criteria for determining need and setting priorities will all be discussed.
Pharmaceutical Ethics. Edited by S. Salek and A. Edgar. © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.