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1.  The Role of Evidence in the Decision-Making Process of Selecting Essential Medicines in Developing Countries: The Case of Tanzania 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84824.
Insufficient access to essential medicines is a major health challenge in developing countries. Despite the importance of Standard Treatment Guidelines and National Essential Medicine Lists in facilitating access to medicines, little is known about how they are updated. This study aims to describe the process of updating the Standard Treatment Guidelines and National Essential Medicine List in Tanzania and further examines the criteria and the underlying evidence used in decision-making.
This is a qualitative study in which data were collected by in-depth interviews and document reviews. Interviews were conducted with 18 key informants who were involved in updating the Standard Treatment Guidelines and National Essential Medicine List. We used a thematic content approach to analyse the data.
The Standard Treatment Guidelines and National Essential Medicine List was updated by committees of experts who were recruited mostly from referral hospitals and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Efficacy, safety, availability and affordability were the most frequently utilised criteria in decision-making, although these were largely based on experience rather than evidence. In addition, recommendations from international guidelines and medicine promotions also influenced decision-making. Cost-effectiveness, despite being an important criterion for formulary decisions, was not utilised.
Recent decisions about the selection of essential medicines in Tanzania were made by committees of experts who largely used experience and discretionary judgement, leaving evidence with only a limited role in decision-making process. There may be several reasons for the current limited use of evidence in decision-making, but one hypothesis that remains to be explored is whether training experts in evidence-based decision-making would lead to a better and more explicit use of evidence.
PMCID: PMC3885598  PMID: 24416293
2.  Reforms: a quest for efficiency or an opportunity for vested interests’? a case study of pharmaceutical policy reforms in Tanzania 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:651.
Regulation of the pharmaceutical sector is a challenging task for most governments in the developing countries. In Tanzania, this task falls under the Food and Drugs Authority and the Pharmacy Council. In 2010, the Pharmacy Council spearheaded policy reforms in the pharmaceutical sector aimed at taking over the control of the regulation of the business of pharmacy from the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority. This study provides a critical analysis of these reforms.
The study employed a qualitative case-study design. Data was collected through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and document reviews. Data was analyzed thematically using a policy triangle framework. The analysis was done manually.
The reforms adopted an incremental model of public policy-making and the process was characterized by lobbying for political support, negotiations and bargaining between the interest groups. These negotiations were largely centred on vested interests and not on the impact of the reforms on the efficiency of pharmaceutical regulations in the country. Stakeholders from the micro and meso levels were minimally involved in the policy reforms.
Recent pharmaceutical regulation reforms in Tanzania were overshadowed by vested interests, displacing a critical analysis of optimal policy options that have the potential to increase efficiency in the regulation of the business of pharmacy. Politics influenced decision-making at different levels of the reform process.
PMCID: PMC3716948  PMID: 23849334
Tanzania; Pharmaceutical policy; Politics; Policy reforms; Policy actors; Pharmacy Act; Pharmacy Council; Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority
3.  Pharmacoeconomics and its implication on priority-setting for essential medicines in Tanzania: a systematic review 
Due to escalating treatment costs, pharmacoeconomic analysis has been assigned a key role in the quest for increased efficiency in resource allocation for drug therapies in high-income countries. The extent to which pharmacoeconomic analysis is employed in the same role in low-income countries is less well established. This systematic review identifies and briefly describes pharmacoeconomic studies which have been conducted in Tanzania and further assesses their influence in the selection of essential medicines.
Pubmed, Embase, Cinahl and Cochrane databases were searched using “economic evaluation”, “cost-effectiveness analysis”, “cost-benefit analysis” AND “Tanzania” as search terms. We also scanned reference lists and searched in Google to identify other relevant articles. Only articles reporting full economic evaluations about drug therapies and vaccines conducted in Tanzania were included. The national essential medicine list and other relevant policy documents related to the identified articles were screened for information regarding the use of economic evaluation as a criterion for medicine selection.
Twelve pharmacoeconomic studies which met our inclusion criteria were identified. Seven studies were on HIV/AIDS, malaria and diarrhoea, the three highest ranked diseases on the disease burden in Tanzania. Six studies were on preventive and treatment interventions targeting pregnant women and children under the age of five years. The national essential medicine list and the other identified policy documents do not state the use of economic evaluation as one of the criteria which has influenced the listing of the drugs.
Country specific pharmacoeconomic analyses are too scarce and inconsistently used to have had a significant influence on the selection of essential medicines in Tanzania. More studies are required to fill the existing gap and to explore whether decision-makers have the ability to interpret and utilise pharmacoeconomic evidence. Relevant health authorities in Tanzania should also consider how to apply pharmacoeconomic analyses more consistently in the future priority-setting decisions for selection of essential medicines.
PMCID: PMC3472274  PMID: 23016739
Tanzania; Essential medicines; Pharmacoeconomics; Cost-effectiveness; Priority-setting; National essential medicine list; Decision-making; Disease burden; Low-income countries
4.  Priority setting for the implementation of artemisinin-based combination therapy policy in Tanzania: evaluation against the accountability for reasonableness framework 
Priority setting for artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs has become an integral part of malaria treatment policy change in malaria-endemic countries. Although these drugs are more efficacious, they are also more costly than the failing drugs. When Tanzania changed its National Malaria Treatment Policy in 2006, priority setting was an inevitable challenge. Artemether-lumefantrine was prioritised as the first-line drug for the management of uncomplicated malaria to be available at a subsidized price at public and faith-based healthcare facilities.
This paper describes the priority-setting process, which involved the selection of a new first-line antimalarial drug in the implementation of artemisinin-based combination therapy policy. These descriptions were further evaluated against the four conditions of the accountability for reasonableness framework. According to this framework, fair decisions must satisfy a set of publicity, relevance, appeals, and revision and enforcement conditions.
In-depth interviews were held with key informants using pretested interview guides, supplemented with a review of the treatment guideline. Purposeful sampling was used in order to explore the perceptions of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. The analysis followed an editing organising style.
Publicity: The selection decision of artemether-lumefantrine but not the rationale behind it was publicised through radio, television, and newspaper channels in the national language, Swahili. Relevance: The decision was grounded on evidences of clinical efficacy, safety, affordability, and formulation profile. Stakeholders were not adequately involved. There was neither an appeals mechanism to challenge the decision nor enforcement mechanisms to guarantee fairness of the decision outcomes.
The priority-setting decision to use artemether-lumefantrine as the first-line antimalarial drug failed to satisfy the four conditions of the accountability for reasonableness framework. In our understanding, this is the first study to evaluate priority-setting decisions for new drugs in Tanzania against the accountability for reasonableness framework. In addition to the demand for enhanced stakeholder involvement, publicity, and transparency, the study also calls for the institution of formal appeals, revision, and regulatory mechanisms in the future change of malaria treatment policies.
PMCID: PMC3349584  PMID: 22423610

Results 1-4 (4)