IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

How property rights and patents affect antibiotic resistance


  • John B. Horowitz

    (Department of Economics, Ball State University, Muncie, USA)

  • H. Brian Moehring

    (Business Economist, 3301 West University Ave., Muncie, USA)


Antibiotic resistance tends to increase when a patent on an antibiotic expires. Since other companies can now sell the antibiotic, more of the antibiotic is produced and prices fall. Because the benefits of reducing current production go to other firms, pharmaceutical companies will have little concern about future resistance. This 'open-access' problem causes excessive antibiotic use and resistance problems in the future. Extending patents is one solution. However, a pharmaceutical company that has patent protection on a drug that is cross-resistant may have little concern about future resistance. This is because when people use completely different antibiotics which cause bacteria to become resistant to the original antibiotic, then the benefits of reducing current production go to other companies. A single buyer such as national health insurance or private health insurance may also have an incentive to reduce antibiotic resistance since they bear the future cost of future resistance. However, insurance coverage reduces the price that patients pay at the margin and thus the patients are likely to use more antibiotics. National health insurance policies may even set the price of antibiotics so low that resistance problems are created even when the patent is in effect. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • John B. Horowitz & H. Brian Moehring, 2004. "How property rights and patents affect antibiotic resistance," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(6), pages 575-583.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:6:p:575-583 DOI: 10.1002/hec.851

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text; subscription required
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brown, Gardner & Layton, David F., 1996. "Resistance economics: social cost and the evolution of antibiotic resistance," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 349-355, July.
    2. Coast, J. & Smith, R. D. & Millar, M. R., 1998. "An economic perspective on policy to reduce antimicrobial resistance," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 29-38, January.
    3. Smith, Richard D. & Coast, Joanna, 1998. "Controlling antimicrobial resistance: a proposed transferable permit market," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 219-232, March.
    4. Laxminarayan, Ramanan, 2001. "Bacterial Resistance and the Optimal Use of Antibiotics," Discussion Papers dp-01-23, Resources For the Future.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Eswaran, Mukesh & Gallini, Nancy, 2016. "Rescuing the Golden Age of Antibiotics: Can Economics Help Avert the Looming Crisis?," Economics working papers nancy_gallini-2016-9, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 04 Jul 2016.
    2. Herrmann, Markus, 2010. "Monopoly pricing of an antibiotic subject to bacterial resistance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 137-150, January.
    3. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2007. "Market structure and communicable diseases," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 468-492, May.
    4. John B. Horowitz & H. Brian Moehring, 2014. "How Economic Development Affects Antibiotic Resistance," Journal for Economic Educators, Middle Tennessee State University, Business and Economic Research Center, vol. 14(1), pages 58-77, Fall.
    5. Eswaran, Mukesh & Gallini, Nancy, 2017. "Can Competition Extend the Golden Age of Antibiotics?," working papers -2017-9, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 19 Oct 2017.
    6. Patricia M. Danzon & Eric L. Keuffel, 2014. "Regulation of the Pharmaceutical-Biotechnology Industry," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Regulation and Its Reform: What Have We Learned?, pages 407-484 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:6:p:575-583. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.