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Determinants of branded prescription medicine prices in OECD countries

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  • Kanavos, Panos G.
  • Vandoros, Sotiris

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of the prices of branded prescription medicines across different regulatory settings and health care systems, taking into account their launch date, patent status, market dynamics and the regulatory context in which they diffuse. By using volume-weighted price indices, this paper analyzes price levels for a basket of prescription medicines and their differences in 15 OECD countries, including the United States and key European countries, the impact of distribution margins and generic entry on public prices and to what extent innovation, by means of introducing newer classes of medicines, contributes to price formation across countries. In doing so, the paper seeks to understand the factors that contribute to the existing differences in prices across countries, whether at an ex-factory or a retail level. The evidence shows that retail prices for branded prescription medicines in the United States are higher than those in key European and other OECD countries, but not as high as widely thought. Large differences in prices are mainly observed at an ex-factory level, but these are not the prices that consumers and payers pay. Cross-country differences in retail prices are actually not as high as expected and, when controlling for exchange rates, these differences can be even smaller. Product age has a significant effect on prices in all settings after having controlled for other factors. Price convergence is observed across countries for newer prescription medicines compared with older medicines. There is no evidence that originator brand prices fall after generic entry in the United States, a phenomenon known as the ‘generics paradox’. Finally, distribution and taxes are important determinants of retail prices in several of the study countries. To the extent that remuneration of the distribution chain and taxation are directly and proportionately linked to product prices this is likely to persist over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Kanavos, Panos G. & Vandoros, Sotiris, 2011. "Determinants of branded prescription medicine prices in OECD countries," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(03), pages 337-367, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:hecopl:v:6:y:2011:i:03:p:337-367_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Francisco J. Pallares & Adam G. Walke & Thomas M., 2014. "Are Online Pharmacy Prices Really Lower in Mexico?," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 4(4), pages 416-431, April.
    2. Puig-Junoy, Jaume & López-Valcárcel, Beatriz González, 2014. "Launch prices for new pharmaceuticals in the heavily regulated and subsidized Spanish market, 1995–2007," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 170-181.
    3. Fritz von der Schulenburg & Sotiris Vandoros & Panos Kanavos, 2011. "The effects of drug market regulation on pharmaceutical prices in Europe: overview and evidence from the market of ACE inhibitors," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-8, December.
    4. Petrou, Panagiotis & Vandoros, Sotiris, 2015. "Cyprus in crisis: Recent changes in the pharmaceutical market and options for further reforms without sacrificing access to or quality of treatment," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(5), pages 563-568.
    5. Takizawa, Osamu & Urushihara, Hisashi & Tanaka, Shiro & Kawakami, Koji, 2015. "Price difference as a predictor of the selection between brand name and generic statins in Japan," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(5), pages 612-619.
    6. Stephan Eger & Jörg Mahlich, 2014. "Pharmaceutical regulation in Europe and its impact on corporate R&D," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 1-9, December.
    7. Vogler, Sabine & Habimana, Katharina & Arts, Danielle, 2014. "Does deregulation in community pharmacy impact accessibility of medicines, quality of pharmacy services and costs? Evidence from nine European countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 311-327.
    8. Vandoros, Sotiris & Stargardt, Tom, 2013. "Reforms in the Greek pharmaceutical market during the financial crisis," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 1-6.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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