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Open Access Research article

Reforms: a quest for efficiency or an opportunity for vested interests’? a case study of pharmaceutical policy reforms in Tanzania

Amani Thomas Mori12*, Eliangiringa Amos Kaale1 and Peter Risha1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Pharmacy, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, P.O. Box 65013, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

2 Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, P.O. Box 7804, 5020, Bergen, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:651  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-651

Published: 13 July 2013

Abstract

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

Keywords:
Tanzania; Pharmaceutical policy; Politics; Policy reforms; Policy actors; Pharmacy Act; Pharmacy Council; Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority