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Unintended Consequences of Products Liability: Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Market

Author

Listed:
  • Eric Helland
  • Darius N. Lakdawalla
  • Anup Malani
  • Seth A. Seabury

Abstract

In a complex economy, production is vertical and crosses jurisdictional lines. Goods are often produced by a global or national firm upstream and improved or distributed by local firms downstream. In this context, heightened products liability may have unintended consequences for consumer safety. Conventional wisdom holds that an increase in tort liability on the upstream firm will encourage that firm to improve safety for consumers. However, in the real-world, policy actions in a single jurisdiction may not be significant enough to influence the behavior of an upstream firm that produces for many jurisdictions. Even worse, if liability is shared between upstream and downstream firms, higher upstream liability may decrease the liability of the downstream distributor and encourage it to behave more recklessly. In this manner, higher upstream liability may perversely increase the sales of a risky good. We demonstrate this phenomenon in the context of the pharmaceutical market. We show that higher products liability on upstream pharmaceutical manufacturers reduces the liability faced by downstream doctors, who respond by prescribing more drugs than before.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Helland & Darius N. Lakdawalla & Anup Malani & Seth A. Seabury, 2014. "Unintended Consequences of Products Liability: Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Market," NBER Working Papers 20005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Galasso, Alberto & Luo, Hong, 2018. "How does product liability risk affect innovation? Evidence from medical implants," CEPR Discussion Papers 13036, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Deiana, C. & Giua, L. & Nisticò, R., 2020. "Opium Price Shocks and Prescription Opioids in the US," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 20/23, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Alberto Galasso & Hong Luo, 2018. "When does Product Liability Risk Chill Innovation? Evidence from Medical Implants," NBER Working Papers 25068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics

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