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When Is Prevention More Profitable than Cure? The Impact of Time-Varying Consumer Heterogeneity-Working Paper 334

  • Michael Kremer, Christopher M. Snyder

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    We argue that in pharmaceutical markets, variation in the arrival time of consumer heterogeneity creates differences between a producer’s ability to extract consumer surplus with preventives and treatments, potentially distorting R&D decisions. If consumers vary only in disease risk, revenue from treatments—sold after the disease is contracted, when disease risk is no longer a source of private information—always exceeds revenue from preventives. The revenue ratio can be arbitrarily high for sufficiently skewed distributions of disease risk. Under some circumstances, heterogeneity in harm from a disease, learned after a disease is contracted, can lead revenue from a treatment to exceed revenue from a preventative. Calibrations suggest that skewness in the U.S. distribution of HIV risk would lead firms to earn only half the revenue from a vaccine as from a drug. Empirical tests are consistent with the predictions of the model that vaccines are less likely to be developed for diseases with substantial disease-risk heterogeneity.

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    Paper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 334.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Jul 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:334
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cgdev.org

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    1. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1994. "Supplying Information to Facilitate Price Discrimination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 309-27, May.
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    4. Clay, Karen B & Sibley, David S & Srinagesh, Padmanabhan, 1992. "Ex Post vs. Ex Ante Pricing: Optional Calling Plans and Tapered Tariffs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 115-38, June.
    5. Courty, Pascal, 2002. "Ticket Pricing Under Demand Uncertainty," CEPR Discussion Papers 3443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1981. "A Theory of Monopoly Pricing Schemes with Demand Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 347-65, June.
    7. World Bank, 2000. "World Development Indicators 2000," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13828, September.
    8. Kessing, Sebastian G. & Nuscheler, Robert, 2006. "Monopoly pricing with negative network effects: The case of vaccines," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 1061-1069, May.
    9. Getzen, Thomas E., 2000. "Health care is an individual necessity and a national luxury: applying multilevel decision models to the analysis of health care expenditures," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 259-270, March.
    10. Pecorino, Paul, 2002. "Should the US allow prescription drug reimports from Canada?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 699-708, July.
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