Observatory Venice Summer School 2014: Re-thinking pharmaceutical policy. Optimising decisions in an era of uncertainty

6–12 July 2014, Venice, Italy


The rising cost of pharmaceutical care in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and countries with emerging economies presents decision-makers with significant challenges to its future sustainability. Questions include:

  • how new technology can be covered and who is likely to benefit;
  • what constitutes value for money in different settings and how this can be defined objectively;
  • what evidence is required to make positive recommendations on coverage and how best to structure reimbursement decisions;
  • how to deal with uncertainty about the value of new medical technology; and
  • whether wise choices are made in the procurement of generic drugs to optimize the use of new technology.

The Summer School is a six-day course that combines a core of formal teaching with a participatory approach that includes participant presentations, roundtables, panel discussions and group work. It mobilizes the latest evidence, a multidisciplinary team of experts and the insights of key international organizations including WHO, the European Commission and relevant professional and governmental organizations. It is organized by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and the Veneto Region of Italy, one of its partners.


The Summer School will build on participants’ knowledge and expertise in pharmaceutical policies and coverage decisions, and marshal the latest evidence on new developments:

  • to provide an up-to-date account of novel strategies to optimize decisions on pharmaceutical policy;
  • to draw on a wide body of evidence to provide a range of concrete options for such policy related to the assessment of new health care technologies, the sharing of risks in novel therapies and the procurement of off-patent drugs;
  • to interpret how such policy options can be put into action considering constraints on resources, infrastructure and technology in different settings; and
  • given resource constraints, to draw practical lessons on policy and implementation to deliver better decisions that will benefit population health.


The Summer School is primarily aimed at senior-to-mid-level policy-makers, and some junior professionals. All participants should be working in a decision-making or advisory institution (a government or nongovernmental organization; a health institute, insurance board or association; hospital federation; or regulatory or other professional body) that focuses on policy and management at a regional, national or European level. The 2014 School specifically targets:

  • national and regional health policy-makers who wish to increase their understanding of health-system performance and its implications for policy; and
  • professionals in the health sector whose responsibilities address performance assessment and improving health-system performance through both policy and its implementation.

Applications are welcome from all 53 Member States in the WHO European Region and the programme will be tailored as far as possible to the mix of participants. If space allows, participants from outside the Region will be considered.