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Is medicines parallel trade ‘regulatory arbitrage’?

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  • Joan Costa-Font

    () (London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE))

Abstract

Abstract Parallel trade (PT) is a phenomenon that takes place at the distribution level, when a patented product is diverted from the official distribution chain to another one where it competes as a parallel distributor. Although some research regards PT in Europe as a ‘common’ form of arbitrage, there are reasons to believe that it is a type of ‘regulatory arbitrage’ that does not necessarily produce equivalent welfare effects. We draw upon a unique dataset that contains source country records of parallel imported medicine sales to the Netherlands for one therapeutic group (statins), that accounts for 5 % of the market at the time of study and it faced no generic competition. We estimate precise differences in prices and statutory distribution margins for each source country/product and, examine whether they drive parallel import flows using a gravity specification and an instrumental variable strategy. Our findings reveal that parallel imports are driven by cross-country differences in statutory distribution margins in addition to price differences, consistently with the hypothesis of PT being a type of ‘regulatory arbitrage’.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Costa-Font, 2016. "Is medicines parallel trade ‘regulatory arbitrage’?," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 321-336, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:ijhcfe:v:16:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s10754-016-9199-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s10754-016-9199-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dubois, Pierre & Saethre, Morten, 2018. "On the Effect of Parallel Trade on Manufacturers’ and Retailers’ Profits in the Pharmaceutical Sector," TSE Working Papers 18-883, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Parallel trade; Parallel imports; Regulatory arbitrage; Pharmaceuticals; Supply chain;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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