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Strategic Responses to Parallel Trade

  • Margaret K. Kyle

This paper examines how pharmaceutical firms have responded to changes in intellectual property rights and trade barriers that legalized "parallel imports" within the European Union. The threat of arbitrage by parallel traders reduces the ability of firms to price discriminate across countries. Due to regulations on price and antitrust law on rationing supply, pharmaceutical firms may rely on non-price responses. Such responses include differentiation of products across countries and selective "culling" of product lines to reduce arbitrage opportunities, as well as raising arbitrageurs' costs through choice of packaging. Using a dataset of drug prices and sales from 1993-2004 covering 30 countries, I find evidence that the behavior of pharmaceutical firms in the EU with respect to their product portfolios is consistent with attempts to reduce parallel trade. This may at least partially explain why parallel trade has not yet resulted in significant price convergence across EU countries. Accounting for non-price strategic responses may therefore be important in assessing the welfare effects of parallel imports.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12968.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Publication status: published as Kyle, Margaret (2011) "Strategic Responses to Parallel Trade," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy: Vol. 11: Iss. 2 (Advances), Article 2.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12968
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  1. Varian, Hal R, 1985. "Price Discrimination and Social Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 870-75, September.
  2. 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.
  3. Fiona M. Scott Morton, 1997. "The Strategic Response by Pharmaceutical Firms to the Medicaid Most-Favored-Customer Rules," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm58, Yale School of Management.
  4. Austan Goolsbee & Chad Syverson, 2008. "How do Incumbents Respond to the Threat of Entry? Evidence from the Major Airlines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1611-1633, November.
  5. Leemore S. Dafny, 2005. "Games Hospitals Play: Entry Deterrence in Hospital Procedure Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 513-542, 09.
  6. Keith E. Maskus, 2000. "Parallel Imports," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(9), pages 1269-1284, 09.
  7. 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.
  8. Danzon, Patricia M. & Chao, Li-Wei, 2000. "Cross-national price differences for pharmaceuticals: how large, and why?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 159-195, March.
  9. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Frank Verboven, 2001. "Market Integration and Convergence to the Law of One Price: Evidence from the European Car Market," NBER Working Papers 8402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michael J. Mazzeo, 2002. "Product Choice and Oligopoly Market Structure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(2), pages 221-242, Summer.
  11. Malueg, D.A. & Schwartz, M., 1993. "Parallel Imports, Demand Dispersion and International Price Discrimination," Papers 93-6, U.S. Department of Justice - Antitrust Division.
  12. Anderson, Simon P & Ginsburgh, Victor A, 1999. "International Pricing with Costly Consumer Arbitrage," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 126-39, February.
  13. Mark Duggan & Fiona Scott Morton, 2004. "The Distortionary Effects of Government Procurement: Evidence from Medicaid Prescription Drug Purchasing," NBER Working Papers 10930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Stefan Szymanski & Tommaso Valletti, 2005. "Parallel trade, price discrimination, investment and price caps," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 20(44), pages 705-749, October.
  15. Ganslandt, Mattias & Maskus, Keith E., 2001. "Parallel imports of pharmaceutical products in the European Union," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2630, The World Bank.
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