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Reference pricing, competition, and pharmaceutical expenditures: Theory and evidence from a natural experiment

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  • Brekke, Kurt R.
  • Holmas, Tor Helge
  • Straume, Odd Rune

Abstract

We study the impact of regulation on competition between brand-names and generics and pharmaceutical expenditures using a unique policy experiment in Norway, where reference pricing (RP) replaced price cap regulation in 2003 for a sub-sample of off-patent products. First, we construct a vertical differentiation model to analyze the impact of regulation on prices and market shares of brand-names and generics. Then, we exploit a detailed panel data set at product level covering several off-patent molecules before and after the policy reform. Off-patent drugs not subject to RP serve as our control group. We find that RP significantly reduces both brand-name and generic prices, and results in significantly lower brand-name market shares. Finally, we show that RP has a strong negative effect on average molecule prices, suggesting significant cost-savings, and that patients' copayments decrease despite the extra surcharges under RP.

Suggested Citation

  • Brekke, Kurt R. & Holmas, Tor Helge & Straume, Odd Rune, 2011. "Reference pricing, competition, and pharmaceutical expenditures: Theory and evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 624-638, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7-8:p:624-638
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    Keywords

    Pharmaceuticals Regulation Generic competition;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics

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