Participatory Workshops are Not Enough to Prevent Policy Implementation Failures: An Example of a Policy Development Process Concerning the Drug Interferon-beta for Multiple Sclerosis

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A possible explanation for policy implementation failure is that the views of the policy's target groups are insufficiently taken into account during policy development. It has been argued that involving these groups in an interactive process of policy development could improve this. We analysed a project in which several target populations participated in workshops aimed to optimise the utilisation of an expensive novel drug (interferon beta) for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. All participants seemed to agree on the appropriateness of establishing a central registry of Multiple Sclerosis patients and developing guidelines. Nevertheless, these policy measures were not implemented. Possible explanations include (1) the subject no longer had high priority when the costs appeared lower than expected, (2) the organisers had paid insufficient attention to the perceived problems of parties involved, and (3) changes within the socio-political context. The workshops in which representatives of the policy's target populations participated did not provide enough interactivity to prevent policy implementation failure.

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