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Incentives for clinical trials


  • Erik Gronqvist
  • Douglas Lundin


It is often argued that drug companies do not wish to carry out post-approval head-to-head clinical trials, since their drugs may be revealed as being no better than existing drugs. However, we show that standard models for vertical differentiation predicts that pharmaceutical companies would in fact benefit from carrying out voluntary post-approval clinical trials: the elimination of quality uncertainty increases expected product differentiation, thereby raising prices for both high-quality and low-quality drugs. It is, however, to the disadvantage of consumers that trials are carried out. By extending the analysis to the case when prices cannot be raised, once the drug has been introduced on the market, we incorporate a prevalent feature of US and European markets. When prices cannot be raised, the entrant drug firm producing the new drug, no longer has incentives to carry out post-approval clinical trials.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Gronqvist & Douglas Lundin, 2009. "Incentives for clinical trials," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(5), pages 513-531.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:18:y:2009:i:5:p:513-531 DOI: 10.1080/10438590802547225

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schmalensee, Richard, 1982. "Product Differentiation Advantages of Pioneering Brands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 349-365, June.
    2. Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
    3. Z. John Lu & William S. Comanor, 1998. "Strategic Pricing Of New Pharmaceuticals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 108-118, February.
    4. Helmut Bester, 1998. "Quality Uncertainty Mitigates Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 828-844, Winter.
    5. William P. Rogerson, 1988. "Price Advertising and the Deterioration of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(2), pages 215-229.
    6. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-239, March.
    7. Pierre Azoulay, 2002. "Do Pharmaceutical Sales Respond to Scientific Evidence?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 551-594, December.
    8. Mats Ekelund & Björn Persson, 2003. "Pharmaceutical Pricing in a Regulated Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 298-306, May.
    9. DiMasi, Joseph A. & Hansen, Ronald W. & Grabowski, Henry G., 2003. "The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 151-185, March.
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    More about this item


    quality uncertainty; symmetric information; pharmaceutical market; clinical trial;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality


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