Trade barriers and prices of essential health-sector inputs

David Woodward
June 2001

The paper investigates the role of trade barriers on the prices of inputs, both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical, required for health interventions. The analysis of a non-pharmaceutical input called Insecticide Treated Bednets (ITNs) as a preventive intervention of malaria, suggests that reduction of tariffs in this category could increase usage by not more than 3% in Sub-Saharan Africa and even less elsewhere. The findings on pharmaceutical prices suggest that trade barriers are of secondary importance in affecting or determining drug prices. Domestic factors, such as distribution costs and retail mark-ups, and international factors such as the new patent regime, have a much greater impact on drug prices.