Applications of Behavioral Economics to Pharmaceutical Policymaking: A Scoping Review with Implications for Best-Value Biological Medicines

Yannick Vandenplas*, Steven Simoens, Florian Turk, Arnold G. Vulto, Isabelle Huys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Objective Pharmaceutical policies are generally based on the assumption that involved stakeholders make rational decisions. However, behavioral economics has taught us that this is not always the case as people deviate from rational behavior in rather predictable patterns. This scoping review examined to what extent behavioral concepts have already been applied in the pharmaceutical domain and what evidence exists about their effectiveness, with the aim of formulating future applications and research hypotheses on policymaking for best-value biologicals. Methods A scoping literature review was conducted on the evidence of behavioral applications to pharmaceuticals. Scientific databases (Embase, MEDLINE, APA PsycArticles, and Scopus) were searched up to 20 October, 2021. Results Forty-four full-text scientific articles were identified and narratively described in this article. Pharmaceutical domains where behavioral concepts have been investigated relate to influencing prescribing behavior, improving medication adherence, and increasing vaccination uptake. Multiple behavioral concepts were examined in the identified studies, such as social norms, defaults, framing, loss aversion, availability, and present bias. The effectiveness of the applied interventions was generally positive, but depended on the context. Some of the examined interventions can easily be translated into effective policy interventions for best-value biological medicines. However, some applications require further investigation in a research context. Conclusions Applications of behavioral economics to pharmaceutical policymaking are promising. However, further research is required to investigate the effect of behavioral applications on policy interventions for a more sustainable market environment for best-value biological medicines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-817
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number6
Early online date16 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Applications of Behavioral Economics to Pharmaceutical Policymaking: A Scoping Review with Implications for Best-Value Biological Medicines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this