Pharmaceutical spending accounts for a large share of health spending worldwide. While pharmaceuticals are an indispensable component of effective modern health systems, and their benefits in terms of increasing life expectancy and improving quality of life are unquestionable, the large variation in pharmaceutical spending across countries suggests that there may be large efficiency gains to be realized. This paper reviews the existing literature and databases on the level and composition of pharmaceutical spending and estimates potential efficiency gains from increased use of generics. It also reviews how countries organize the procurement and tendering of pharmaceuticals and the implications for spending. Finally, the paper identifies the various channels through which spending inefficiencies can arise and identifies reform options for reducing pharmaceutical spending while ensuring quality health outcomes.
In this paper, we present a framework for assessing the effectiveness of different business closure policies, using New York City as a case study. Business closure policies have been widely implemented in an attempt to slow down the pandemic, but it is difficult to measure the contribution of closures of specific industries to virus transmission. Our framework allows us to estimate the impact of specific industry closures on the spread of COVID-19 via their effects on aggregate mobility. We find that early reopening led to a prolonged pandemic and a large case surge in the second wave during 2020, though the reopening allowed the city to regain its economic function as a consumption hub. An alternative policy that extends the lockdown is found to be more cost-effective as it makes future traveling safer and prevents the economy from relapsing into a more stringent policy regime.
Pandemics and epidemics pose risks to lives, societies, and economies, and their frequency is expected to increase as rising trade and increased human interaction with animals leads to the emergence of new diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic teaches us that we can and must be better prepared, with scope for much greater global coordination to address the financing, supply-chain, and trade barriers that amplified the pandemic’s economic costs and contributed to the emergence of new variants. This paper draws seven early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic that could inform future policy priorities and help shape a better global response to future crises.