SA4G3      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 Executive MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The aim of this course it 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 and 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.


The course will comprise 10 x 1-hour interactive lectures, 1 x 1-hour revision session and 5 x 2-hour interactive seminars, where students will discuss specific case studies.

Formative coursework

A 2000 word formative essay, to mirror an exam question, to be written during seminar time.

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.

Students will be given access to essential readings before the course begins through the pre-sessional reading programme on Moodle, which they will be expected to read prior to the first day of class.


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

This is the same course as SA427 Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy (H) but it has different teaching and assessment arrangements.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 3.8
Merit 68.8
Pass 27.5
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 29

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information