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"Napsterizing" Pharmaceuticals: Access, Innovation, and Consumer Welfare

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  • James W. Hughes
  • Michael J. Moore
  • Edward A. Snyder

Abstract

We analyze the effects on consumers of an extreme policy experiment -- Napsterizing' pharmaceuticals -- whereby all patent rights on branded prescription drugs are eliminated for both existing and future prescription drugs without compensation to the patent holders. The question of whether this policy maximizes consumer welfare cannot be resolved on an a priori basis due to an obvious tradeoff: While accelerating generic entry will yield substantial gains in consumer surplus associated with greater access to the current stock of pharmaceuticals, future consumers will be harmed by reducing the flow of new pharmaceuticals to the market. Our estimates of the consumer surpluses at stake are based on the stylized facts concerning how generic entry has affected prices, outputs, and market shares. We find that providing greater access to the current stock of prescription drugs yields large benefits to existing consumers. However, realizing those benefits has a substantially greater cost in terms of lost consumer benefits from reductions in the flow of new drugs. Specifically, the model yields the result that for every dollar in consumer benefit realized from providing greater access to the current stock, future consumers would be harmed at a rate of three dollars in present value terms from reduced future innovation. We obtain this result even accounting for the stylized fact that after generic entry branded drugs continue to earn significant price premia over generic products and hence recognizing that Napsterizing does not completely eliminate the incentives to innovate.

Suggested Citation

  • James W. Hughes & Michael J. Moore & Edward A. Snyder, 2002. ""Napsterizing" Pharmaceuticals: Access, Innovation, and Consumer Welfare," NBER Working Papers 9229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9229
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lee Branstetter & Chirantan Chatterjee & Matthew J. Higgins, 2014. "Starving (or Fattening) the Golden Goose?: Generic Entry and the Incentives for Early-Stage Pharmaceutical Innovation," NBER Working Papers 20532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2007. "Importation And Innovation," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 403-417.
    3. Chatterjee, Chirantan & Kubo, Kensuke & Pingali, Viswanath, 2015. "The consumer welfare implications of governmental policies and firm strategy in markets for medicines," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 255-273.
    4. Mondal, Shamim S. & Pingali, Viswanath, 2015. "Competition Law and the Pharmaceutical Sector in India," IIMA Working Papers WP2015-11-02, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
    5. Chiara Bonassi & Fabio Pammolli & Massimo Riccaboni & Nicola Carmine Salerno, 2007. "Regolazione, innovazione e ciclo di vita dei prodotti - per una riforma del pricing al lancio e della governance della spesa nella farmaceutica pubblica," Working Papers CERM 02-2007, Competitività, Regole, Mercati (CERM).
    6. Lee G. Branstetter & Chirantan Chatterjee & Matthew Higgins, 2011. "Regulation and Welfare: Evidence from Paragraph IV Generic Entry in the Pharmaceutical Industry," NBER Working Papers 17188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. McManis Charles, 2009. "A Rhetorical Response to Boldrin & Levine: Against Intellectual (Property) Extremism," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 1081-1100, December.
    8. Virabhak, Suchin & Sohn, Wook, 2008. "Drug competition and voluntary exit," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 34-37, October.
    9. An-Hsiang Liu & Ralph Siebert & Christine Zulehner, 2013. "The Impact of Entry Regulation on Total Welfare: A Policy Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4291, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Yibai Yang, 2018. "On the Optimality of IPR Protection with Blocking Patents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 205-230, January.
    11. Hsu, Jason C. & Schwartz, Eduardo S., 2008. "A model of R&D valuation and the design of research incentives," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 350-367, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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