Medicines manufactured by the pharma sector cost significant amounts of money to go from discovery to market. This can mean that many medicines when they launch are beyond the ability of most people to afford them. In most cases the largest purchaser of pharmaceuticals are countries. Countries buy the drugs for their own national formularies. In an ideal world everyone would get the drugs they need to treat their illnesses. This unfortunately is not the case. Countries have limited budgets with which to buy essential medicines. Pharmacoeconomics is the study of the value of one drug or drug therapy over another. In Ireland the NCPE (National Centre for Pharmacoeconomic Evaluation) takes on the task of deciding which drugs should be made available freely from the state. Their mission is:
…to facilitate healthcare decisions on the reimbursement of technologies, by applying clinical and scientific evidence in a systematic framework, in order to maximise population wellness. The NCPE assess evidence for comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of technologies for use by patients in Ireland. This is done through assessment of evidence submitted by manufacturers and independent systematic review. The NCPE also undertake research to inform national guidelines for health technology assessment.