Assessment of the impact of market regulation in Mali on the price of essential medicines provided through the private sector

Diadié Maïga, Bryn Williams-Jones
Health Policy 2010, 97 (2-3): 130-5

OBJECTIVE: In 1998, the government of Mali adopted a national pharmaceutical policy aimed at promoting a supply system for generic essential medicines that would guarantee equal access for all citizens. Distribution and delivery is a shared responsibility of both public and private sectors (wholesalers and pharmacies). To influence private sector behaviour, the national policy uses a combination of government regulation and market forces. In 2006, the government issued a decree fixing maximum prices in the private sector for 107 prescription drugs from the national list of 426 essential medicines. The current study assessed the impact of this intervention on the evolution of market prices (wholesale and retail), and the subsequent availability and public access to essential medicines in Mali.

METHODS: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted in February and May 2006, and January 2009, with 16 wholesalers and 30 private drugstores in Bamako, Mali.

RESULTS: The overall availability of essential medicines at private wholesalers (p=1) and pharmacies (p=0.53) was identical before and after the enforcement of the 2006 decree fixing maximum drug prices. Contrary to concerns expressed by wholesalers and pharmacies, and the other stakeholders, the decree did not impact negatively on availability of essential medicines. In fact, median wholesale prices in 2009 were 25.6% less than those fixed by the decree. In private pharmacies, retail prices were only 3% more expensive than the recommended prices, compared with being 25.5% more expensive prior to enforcement of the decree.

CONCLUSIONS: The study shows that prices of essential medicines in Mali have evolved favourably towards the prices recommended by the government decree. Further, the study contributes to mounting evidence that market regulation by governments does not necessarily negatively affect drug availability; in fact, given the reduction in prices, the study shows that Malians arguably have better access to more affordable essential medicines.

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