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The Cost of US Pharmaceutical Price Reductions: A Financial Simulation Model of R&D Decisions


  • Thomas A. Abbott
  • John A. Vernon


Previous empirical studies that have examined the links between pharmaceutical price controls, profits, cash flows, and investment in research and development (R&D) have been largely based on retrospective statistical analyses of firm- and/or industry-level data. These studies, which have contributed numerous insights and findings to the literature, relied upon ad hoc reduced-form model specifications. In the current paper we take a very different approach: a prospective micro-simulation approach. Using Monte Carlo techniques we model how future price controls in the U.S. will impact early-stage product development decisions in the pharmaceutical industry. This is done within the context of a net present value (NPV) framework that appropriately reflects the uncertainty associated with R&D project technical success, development costs, and future revenues. Using partial-information estimators calibrated with the most contemporary clinical and economic data available, we demonstrate how pharmaceutical price controls will significantly diminish the incentives to undertake early-stage R&D investment. For example, we estimate that cutting prices by 40 to 50 percent in the U.S. will lead to between 30 to 60 percent fewer R&D projects being undertaken (in early-stage development). Given the recent legislative efforts to control prescription drug prices in the U.S., and the likelihood that price controls will prevail as a result, it is important to better understand the firm response to such a regulatory change.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas A. Abbott & John A. Vernon, 2005. "The Cost of US Pharmaceutical Price Reductions: A Financial Simulation Model of R&D Decisions," NBER Working Papers 11114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11114
    Note: HE PR

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henry Grabowski & John Vernon, 2000. "The determinants of pharmaceutical research and development expenditures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 201-215.
    2. DiMasi, Joseph A. & Hansen, Ronald W. & Grabowski, Henry G., 2003. "The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 151-185, March.
    3. repec:reg:rpubli:202 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2007. "Importation And Innovation," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 403-417.
    2. Lichtenberg Frank R., 2010. "Pharmaceutical Price Discrimination and Social Welfare," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-32, July.
    3. Civan Abdulkadir & Maloney Michael T., 2009. "The Effect of Price on Pharmaceutical R&D," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, April.
    4. Somers, Mark & Whittaker, Joe, 2007. "Quantile regression for modelling distributions of profit and loss," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 183(3), pages 1477-1487, December.
    5. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:11:y:2007:i:02:n:s1363919607001746 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy

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