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Pharmaceutical Prices and Political Activity

  • Sara Fisher Ellison
  • Catherine Wolfram
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    Drug prices have been a conspicuous political issue in much of recent history, but no more so than during health care reform debates in 1993 and 1994. This paper investigates possible effects of political activity on pharmaceutical prices, with a particular focus on the health care reform period. It evaluates the extent to which pharmaceutical companies slowed the rates at which they increased prices in an attempt to preempt government intervention. To do so, we characterize companies based on their vulnerability to future price regulation. We then consider patterns in price movements across companies. The results suggest that companies whose drugs had longer patent lives and who had recently increased contributions to their corporate Political Action Committees (PACs) slowed price increases during 1992 and 1994 more than their competitors. It is difficult to distinguish pricing differences across companies in 1993, perhaps because most companies had pledged to keep price increases below the rate of inflation.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8482.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8482
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    1. Block, Michael Kent & Nold, Frederick Carl, 1981. "The Deterrent Effect of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 429-45, June.
    2. David P. Baron, 1997. "Integrated Strategy and International Trade Disputes: The Kodak-Fujifilm Case," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 291-346, 06.
    3. Berndt, Ernst R & Griliches, Zvi & Rosett, Joshua G, 1993. "Auditing the Producer Price Index: Micro Evidence from Prescription Pharamceutical Preparations," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 11(3), pages 251-64, July.
    4. Ernst R. Berndt & Iain M. Cockburn & Douglas L. Cocks & Arnold M. Epstein & Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Is Price Inflation Different for the Elderly? An Empirical Analysis of Prescription Drugs," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in Health Policy Research, Volume 1, pages 33-76 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Glazer, Amihai & McMillan, Henry, 1992. "Pricing by the Firm under Regulatory Threat," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1089-99, August.
    6. Ernst R. Berndt & Linda T. Bui & David H. Lucking-Reiley & Glen L. Urban, 1996. "The Roles of Marketing, Product Quality, and Price Competition in the Growth and Composition of the U.S. Antiulcer Drug Industry," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of New Goods, pages 277-328 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2007. "Strategic Entry Deterrence and the Behavior of Pharmaceutical Incumbents Prior to Patent Expiration," NBER Working Papers 13069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Sara Fisher Ellison, 1998. "What Prices Can Tell Us about the Market for Antibiotics," Working papers 98-10, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    9. Ellison, Sara Fisher & Mullin, Wallace P, 2001. "Gradual Incorporation of Information: Pharmaceutical Stocks and the Evolution of President Clinton's Health Care Reform," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 89-129, April.
    10. Esty, Daniel C & Caves, Richard E, 1983. "Market Structure and Political Influence: New Data on Political Expenditures, Activity, and Success," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(1), pages 24-38, January.
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