Prescribing Cultures and Pharmaceutical Policy in the Asia-Pacific: A Book Launch Event
Anita Wagner, Harvard University
Naoko Tomita, Keio University
Karen Eggleston, Stanford University
Pharmaceutical policies are interlinked globally, yet deeply rooted in local culture. The newly published book Prescribing Cultures and Pharmaceutical Policy in the Asia-Pacific, edited by Karen Eggleston, examines how pharmaceuticals and their regulation play an important and often contentious role in the health systems of the Asia-Pacific. In this colloquium, contributors to Prescribing Cultures discuss how the book analyzes pharmaceutical policy in China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, and India, focusing on two cross-cutting themes: differences in "prescribing cultures" and physician dispensing; and the challenge of balancing access to drugs with incentives for innovation. As Michael Reich of Harvard University says in his Forward to Prescribing Cultures, "The pharmaceutical sector "promises great benefits and also poses enormous risks." Conflicts abound over public policies, industry strategies, payment mechanisms, professional associations, and dispensing practices" to name just a few of the regional controversies covered in this excellent book. The tension between emphasizing innovation versus access–a topic of hot debate on today's global health policy agenda–is examined in several chapters. This book makes a special contribution to our understanding of the pharmaceutical sector in China as globalization gallops forward, with Chinese producers pushing the pace at breakneck speed. More and more, our safety depends on China's ability to get its regulatory act together. This presentation will give specific examples of how pharmaceutical policy serves as a window into the economic tradeoffs, political compromises, and historical trajectories that shape health systems, as well as how cultural legacies shape and are shaped by the forces of globalization.