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February 26, 1982

Pills and the Public Purse: The Routes to National Drug Insurance

Author Affiliations

Pennsylvania State University University Park

JAMA. 1982;247(8):1187. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320330083041

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This book offers both less and more than the title promises. Readers expecting a full-blown analysis of drug coverage under government auspices—either current or proposed— will be disappointed. The scant 12 pages devoted to prescription drug coverage under existing private insurance policies and government programs in the United States are insufficient for an understanding of why national drug insurance is necessary or what form it should take. On the other hand, readers are treated to a well-written, wide-ranging discussion of policy issues affecting the use, provision, financing, and regulation of drugs in this country and abroad. In fact, the work is really a primer on the drug sector as a whole rather than a technical treatise on either "pills" or the "public purse."

The first third of the book provides a rapid-fire overview of the components of the system, beginning with the drug industry itself and progressing to patients, physicians,