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Pharmaceutical reform and physician strikes in Korea: separation of drug prescribing and dispensing


  • Kwon, Soonman


Before the recent pharmaceutical reform in Korea that mandates the separation of drug prescribing and dispensing, physicians and pharmacists both prescribed and dispensed drugs, resulting in the overuse and misuse of drugs. The pharmaceutical reform attempts to change the provider's economic incentives by eliminating the providers' profit from drugs that have been a major source of their income. It also influences the pharmaceutical industry that has thrived on offering high margins to physicians rather than on producing high-quality drugs. However, physician strikes forced the government to modify some critical elements of the reform package and to raise medical fees substantially to compensate for the income loss of physicians. Lack of a strategic plan of implementation, failure to appreciate the change in the paradigm of health policy process, and failure to convince consumers of the benefits of the reform, are the major reasons that the historic reform of the separation of drug prescribing and dispensing has resulted in greater social cost than expected.

Suggested Citation

  • Kwon, Soonman, 2003. "Pharmaceutical reform and physician strikes in Korea: separation of drug prescribing and dispensing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 529-538, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:3:p:529-538

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    Cited by:

    1. Kang-Hung Chang, 2009. "The healer or the druggist: effects of two health care policies in Taiwan on elderly patients’ choice between physician and pharmacist services," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 137-152, June.
    2. Lim, David & Emery, Jon & Lewis, Janice & Sunderland, V Bruce, 2009. "A systematic review of the literature comparing the practices of dispensing and non-dispensing doctors," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-9, September.
    3. Skipper, Niels & Vejlin, Rune, 2015. "Determinants of generic vs. brand drug choice: Evidence from population-wide Danish data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 204-215.
    4. Gauld, Robin & Ikegami, Naoki & Barr, Michael D. & Chiang, Tung-Liang & Gould, Derek & Kwon, Soonman, 2006. "Advanced Asia's health systems in comparison," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 79(2-3), pages 325-336, December.
    5. Kinoshita, Hiroki & Kobayashi, Yasuki & Fukuda, Takashi, 2008. "Duplicative medications in patients who visit multiple medical institutions among the insured of a corporate health insurance society in Japan," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 114-123, January.
    6. Liu, Ya-Ming & Yang, Yea-Huei Kao & Hsieh, Chee-Ruey, 2012. "Regulation and competition in the Taiwanese pharmaceutical market under national health insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 471-483.
    7. Kwon, Hye-Young & Hong, Ji-Min & Godman, Brian & Yang, Bong-Min, 2013. "Price cuts and drug spending in South Korea: The case of antihyperlipidemic agents," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 112(3), pages 217-226.
    8. Cho, Mee-Hyun & Yoo, Ki-Bong & Lee, Hoo-Yeon & Lee, Kwang-Sig & Kwon, Jeoung A & Han, Kyu-Tae & Kim, Jae-Hyun & Park, Eun-Cheol, 2015. "The effect of new drug pricing systems and new reimbursement guidelines on pharmaceutical expenditures and prescribing behavior among hypertensive patients in Korea," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(5), pages 604-611.
    9. Adam Wagstaff, 2007. "Health systems in East Asia: what can developing countries learn from Japan and the Asian Tigers?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 441-456.
    10. Lim, Seunghoo & Lee, Keon-Hyung & Suh, Hae Sun & Bae, Kwi-Hee, 2014. "To whom do bureaucrats need to respond? Two faces of civil society in health policy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 269-277.


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