“Health for all” and the challenges for pharmaceutical policies: A critical interpretive synthesis over 40 years

Gautier, L. and P.-M. David (2022, février)

Social Sciences & Humanities Open (SSHO)

Vol. 5 / Issue 1: Open Access | 10 p.

More than 40 years after the Alma-Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care, it is time to take stock. A look back at the evolution of pharmaceutical policies reveals the extent to which international health has transformed in the last four decades. The imperative of equitable access to healthcare, reaffirmed in Astana in 2018, has still not been achieved in many countries across the globe, whereas recent Ebola and COVID epidemics have opened up new political spaces for pharmaceutical development. In response to a gap in the literature with regard to the politics behind global pharmaceutical policymaking, we offer a critical interpretive synthesis of the literature on pharmaceutical policies, in English and French, from 1978 to 2018 inclusively. Our search strategy and inclusion criteria enabled us to select and review 134 papers and books on pharmaceutical policies. Building upon the seminal works of K.S. Rajan, we review the literature under the following assumption: pharmaceutical policies reflect or enact different conceptions of knowledge, political spaces, and value. We then critically discuss our findings in light of the contemporary debates, particularly in the wake of recurring epidemics. We thereby challenge the mainstream perspective according to which pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical policies must be viewed as value-free, apolitical instruments.