SA427      Half Unit
Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Panagiotis Kanavos COW3.08


This course is available on the MSc Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in Health, Population and Society, MSc in International Health Policy, MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) and MSc in Social Policy (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students must have an understanding of basic Health Economics principles.

Course content

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the economics of pharmaceutical markets and related policies that affect national and international markets broadly.

- To provide students with an understanding of basic features of pharmaceutical markets, how pharmaceutical markets work and how competition manifests itself in different parts of pharmaceutical markets.

- To illustrate to students how the pharmaceutical market is linked to the health care market, why it is often the focus of much regulation, and to help students understand the multidimensional goals of pharmaceutical policies.

- To introduce students to the economic and policy problems encountered in managing pharmaceutical markets and how to evaluate the impact of alternative policy approaches. The course will also give students some experience in critically evaluating the impact of policy on market outcomes.

- To facilitate consideration of various country-specific political, cultural and economic factors that may drive governments' approaches to pharmaceutical regulation. In this context, this course will help students consider the extent to which policies may be transferable.

- To enable students to analyse pharmaceutical markets from the perspectives of several main actors: governments, third party payers, the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, patients, pharmacists and wholesalers. Literature from Health Economics, Industrial Organisation and Health Policy will be incorporated into lectures, discussions and seminars.

- To introduce students to the economics of pricing and reimbursing pharmaceutical products, to explore different models of pricing and reimbursing medicines in OECD countries, including rate of return regulation, value-based pricing, cost-plus pricing, external price referencing and internal reference pricing, among others.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Plus scheduled revision session.

Formative coursework

A formative essay under exam conditions (1 question in 1 hour) will be a requirement and is to be submitted immediately after the revision session.

Indicative reading

E Mossialos, M Mrazek & T Walley (eds), Regulating Pharmaceuticals in Europe. Striving for Efficiency, Equity and Quality, Buckingham, Open University Press (2004); S O Schweitzer, Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy, Oxford University Press (2006); W S Comanor, 'The Political Economy of the Pharmaceutical Industry', Journal of Economic Literature, XXIV (September): 1178-1217 (1986); F M Scherer 'The Pharmaceutical Industry', Chapter 25, in: A J Culyer & J P Newhouse (Eds), Handbook of Health Economics, Vol 1, Amsterdam, Oxford, Elsevier, 2000.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

This is the same course as SA4G3 Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy (modular) but it has different teaching arrangements.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 5.7
Merit 73.6
Pass 20.1
Fail 0.6

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 48

Average class size 2015/16: 16

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 85%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)