Rationing hepatitis C treatment in the context of austerity policies in France and Cameroon : a transnational perspective on thepharmaceuticalization of healthcare systems
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofSocial science and medicine ; vol. 187, pp. 243-250.
New powerful drugs against hepatitis C can cure the disease, but they are not widely distributed because their exorbitant prices are destabilizing healthcare systems in both African and European countries. This article takes access to hepatitis C treatments since 2013 in France and in Cameroon as a lens to analyze the rationing of pharmaceutical treatments in relation to recent transformations of health systems. Access to these treatments is analyzed thanks to ethnographic observation and interviews lead in Paris and Yaoundé, with patients, associations, health professionals and public health experts. In Cameroon, rationing takes place through various layers of socio-economic restrictions, and no patient organization advocates for hepatitis treatment. In France, access to hepatitis C treatments has become politicized, and collective mobilizations have denounced rationing as a threat to the promise of universal social security. In this study, we examine Africa's long experience with rationing in the context of structural adjustment, and we bring together experiences in France and Cameroon. This article analyses the phenomenon of the pharmaceuticalization of healthcare systems, that is to say the growing use of pharmaceuticals in healthcare systems, by documenting the social and political construction of scarcity. Indeed, whereas pharmaceuticalization is a concept that has often been used in situations of drugs abundance, a parallel analysis of rationing highlights a political economy of pharmaceuticals that shapes public health debates and policies according to an economy of scarcity, especially in times of austerity.