IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

The pharmaceutical industry

In: Handbook of Health Economics


  • Scherer, F.M.


This Handbook chapter surveys the extensive body of research on the economics of the pharmaceutical industry (with peripheral attention paid also to regulated medical devices). Pharmaceuticals is one of the world's most research-intensive industries, generating a continuing steam of new products that save lives and raise the quality of life. The discovery of new drugs has evolved over time from a decidedly empirical process to one based to a considerable degree upon fundamental scientific knowledge. Rich linkages have emerged between profit-seeking manufacturers and basic research performers such as universities and national laboratories. The safety and efficacy of new pharmaceutical products are stringently regulated in most industrialized nations, adding to clinical testing costs. Because of high expenditures on research, development, and clinical testing and because new products, once proven, might be imitated easily, patent protection is unusually important. The extension of patent protection to third-world nations under Uruguay Round Treaty mandates has precipitated vigorous policy debates. Patents, first-mover advantages, and the lack of good substitutes for significant new drugs often give rise to substantial monopoly power, against which many national governments have counterpoised a diverse panoply of price control mechanisms. When patents expire, however, generic substitutes often introduce vigorous price competition. The extent to which generics capture market share from the branded original drugs depends upon government regulatory policies, the reimbursement strategies of health care insurers, and the organization of health care provider institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Scherer, F.M., 2000. "The pharmaceutical industry," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 25, pages 1297-1336 Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:heachp:1-25

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health


    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:eee:heachp:1-25. 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: (Dana Niculescu). 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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.