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Is Price Inflation Different for the Elderly? An Empirical Analysis of Prescription Drugs

In: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 1

Author

Listed:
  • Ernst R. Berndt
  • Iain M. Cockburn
  • Douglas L. Cocks
  • Arnold M. Epstein
  • Zvi Griliches

Abstract

Using annual IMS data from 1990 to 1996, we examine empirically whether whether elderly-nonelderly price inflation differentials exist for one medical item, namely, prescription pharmaceuticals. We assess prices for Rx for Rx drugs destined for ultimate use by the elderly vs. the nonelderly at three points in the distribution chain: initial sales from manufacturers, intermediate purchases by retail pharmacies, and final sales from retail pharmacies to patients/payors. We find that at the initial point in the distribution chain, there are no differences in price inflation for the aggregate of drugs destined for use by the elderly vs. the nonelderly. At the intermediate sell-in to pharmacy distribution point, we examine antibiotics (ABs), antidepressants (ADs) and calcium channel blockers (CCBs). For ABs, since 1992 elderly price inflation is somewhat greater than for the young, reflecting in part the elderly's more intensive use of newer branded products having fewer side effects, adverse drug interactions and more convenient dosing--attributes of particular importance to the elderly. For ADs, elderly price inflation is considerably less than for the young, due in large part to the elderly's greater use of older generic products. For CCBs, elderly- nonelderly differentials are negligible. None of these differentials adjusts for variations in quality. At the final retail sell-out point, we only examine ADs. We find that since retailers obtain larger gross margins on generic than on branded products, and because the elderly are disproportionately large users of generic ADs, the elderly-nonelderly price inflation differential benefiting the elderly at the intermediate point is reduced considerably at final sale.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ernst R. Berndt & Iain M. Cockburn & Douglas L. Cocks & Arnold M. Epstein & Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Is Price Inflation Different for the Elderly? An Empirical Analysis of Prescription Drugs," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 1, pages 33-76 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:9823
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Griliches, Zvi & Cockburn, Iain, 1994. "Generics and New Goods in Pharmaceutical Price Indexes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1213-1232.
    2. David M. Cutler & Ellen Meara, 1998. "The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty-Year Perspective," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 215-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Berndt, Ernst R & Griliches, Zvi & Rosett, Joshua G, 1993. "Auditing the Producer Price Index: Micro Evidence from Prescription Pharamceutical Preparations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 11(3), pages 251-264, July.
    4. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse & Dahlia Remler, 1996. "Are Medical Prices Declining?," NBER Working Papers 5750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Michael, Robert T, 1979. "Variation across Households in the Rate of Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(1), pages 32-46, February.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sara Fisher Ellison & Catherine Wolfram, 2001. "Pharmaceutical Prices and Political Activity," NBER Working Papers 8482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Linn, 2004. "Market Size in Innovation: Theory and Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1049-1090.
    3. Bart Hobijn & David Lagakos, 2005. "Inflation Inequality In The United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 581-606.
    4. Sara Fisher Ellison & Catherine Wolfram, 2004. "Coordinating on Lower Prices: Pharmaceutical Pricing Under Political Pressure," Economics Working Papers 0048, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
    5. Michel Grignon, 2005. "Aging, Health and Aggregate Medical Care Spending in France," Department of Economics Working Papers 2005-05, McMaster University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation

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