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Price Regulation and Parallel Imports of Pharmaceuticals

  • Brekke, Kurt R.


    (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Holmås, Tor Helge


    (Uni Rokkan Centre)

  • Straume, Odd Rune


    (University of Minho)

This paper studies the effects of price regulation and parallel imports in the on-patent pharmaceutical market. First, we develop a theory model in which a pharmacy negotiates producer prices with a brand-name firm and then sets retail prices. We show that the effects of price regulation crucially depend on whether the producer faces competition from parallel imports. While parallel imports improve the bargaining position of the pharmacy, price regulation counteracts this effect and may even be profitable for the producer. Second, we use a unique dataset with information on sales and prices at both producer and retail level for 165 substances over four years (2004-7). Exploiting exogenous variation in the regulated price caps, we show that stricter price regulation reduces competition from parallel imports. While the effect is clearly negative on producer profits for substances without parallel imports, the e¤ect is not significant for substances with parallel imports. Finally, we show that stricter price regulation reduces total expenditures, but the e¤ect is much stronger for substances with parallel import. Thus, our results suggest that price regulation may promote both static and dynamic efficiency in the presence of parallel imports.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics in its series Discussion Paper Series in Economics with number 1/2014.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 10 Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2014_001
Contact details of provider: Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 55 959 277
Fax: 5595 9100
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  1. Kurt R. Brekke & Astrid L. Grasdal & Tor Helge Holmås, 2007. "Regulation and Pricing of Pharmaceuticals: Reference Pricing or Price Cap Regulation?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2059, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Yongmin Chen & Keith Maskus, 2005. "Vertical Pricing and Parallel Imports," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 1-18.
  3. Malueg, David A. & Schwartz, Marius, 1994. "Parallel imports, demand dispersion, and international price discrimination," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3-4), pages 167-195, November.
  4. Kyle Margaret, 2011. "Strategic Responses to Parallel Trade," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(2), pages 1-34, January.
  5. Brekke, Kurt R. & Holmas, Tor Helge & Straume, Odd Rune, 2011. "Reference pricing, competition, and pharmaceutical expenditures: Theory and evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 624-638.
  6. Szymanski, Stefan & Valletti, Tommaso, 2005. "Parallel Trade, International Exhaustion and Intellectual Property Rights: A Welfare Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 5022, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Brekke, Kurt Richard & Holmås, Tor Helge & Straume, Odd Rune, 2013. "Margins and market shares: Pharmacy incentives for generic substitution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 116-131.
  8. Granlund, David & Yesim Köksal, Miyase, 2011. "Parallel Imports and Mandatory Substitution Reform: A kick or a muff for price competition in pharmaceuticals," Working Papers in Economics 496, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  9. Pecorino, Paul, 2002. "Should the US allow prescription drug reimports from Canada?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 699-708, July.
  10. Ganslandt, Mattias & Maskus, Keith E., 2004. "Parallel imports and the pricing of pharmaceutical products: evidence from the European Union," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 1035-1057, September.
  11. Joseph H. Golec & John A. Vernon, 2006. "European Pharmaceutical Price Regulation, Firm Profitability, and R&D Spending," NBER Working Papers 12676, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Kamal Saggi & Santanu Roy, 2011. "Equilibrium Parallel Import Policies and International Market Structure," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 1113, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  13. Margaret K. Kyle, 2007. "Pharmaceutical Price Controls and Entry Strategies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 88-99, February.
  14. Giuseppe Carone & Christoph Schwierz & Ana Xavier, 2012. "Cost-containment policies in public pharmaceutical spending in the EU," European Economy - Economic Papers 461, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  15. Grossman, Gene & Lai, Edwin, 2006. "Parallel Imports and Price Controls," CEPR Discussion Papers 5779, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Maskus, Keith E. & Yongmin Chen, 2000. "Vertical price control and parallel imports - theory and evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2461, The World Bank.
  17. Danzon, Patricia M & Chao, Li-Wei, 2000. "Does Regulation Drive out Competition in Pharmaceutical Markets?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 311-57, October.
  18. Izabela Jelovac & Catalina Bordoy, 2005. "Pricing and Welfare Implications of Parallel Imports in the Pharmaceutical Industry," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-21, January.
  19. Granlund, David & Köksal, Miyase Yesim, 2011. "Parallel Imports and Mandatory Substitution Reform - A Kick or A Muff for Price Competition in Pharmaceuticals?," HUI Working Papers 49, HUI Research.
  20. Panos Kanavos & Joan Costa-Font, 2005. "Pharmaceutical parallel trade in Europe: stakeholder and competition effects," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 20(44), pages 751-798, October.
  21. John A. Vernon, 2005. "Examining the link between price regulation and pharmaceutical R&D investment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 1-16.
  22. Granlund, David & Köksal , Miyase Yesim, 2011. "Parallel Imports and Mandatory Substitution Reform - A Kick or A Muff for Price Competition in Pharmaceuticals?," Umeå Economic Studies 824, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
  23. Giaccotto, Carmelo & Santerre, Rexford E & Vernon, John A, 2005. "Drug Prices and Research and Development Investment Behavior in the Pharmaceutical Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 195-214, April.
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