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Intellectual Property & External Consumption Effects: Generalizations from Pharmaceutical Markets

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  • Tomas Philipson
  • Stephane Mechoulan

Abstract

There is a long-standing literature that recognizes that an efficient solution in correcting a consumption externality is through applying subsidies and taxes that line up private incentives with social ones. An equally long-standing literature tackles the appropriate methods of generating the efficient amount of R&D into goods that only have private consumption effects, e.g. the analysis of the welfare effects of patent regulations. This paper analyzes the joint problem of the optimal provision of R&D and consumption incentives for goods that at the same time undergo technological change and have external consumption effects. For good with external effects, just as is the case for goods with only private effects, ex-post static efficiency may have to be sacrificed for dynamic efficiency. For goods with only private consumption effects, it is well-understood that efficient competition ex-post leads to insufficient R&D incentives ex-ante, which is of course the common rationale for patents. For external effects, this analogy has the important and unrecognized implication that classic interventions to solve externality problems, such as Pigouvian taxes and subsidies, may often be inefficient under technological change. In many cases, arguing for Pigouvian solutions in presence of technological change is analogous to arguing for competitive markets for new inventions (!), as both argue for ex-post efficiency rather than dynamic efficiency. The results are discussed in the context of the pharmaceutical industry which simultaneously is one of the most R&D-intensive industries and one for which consumption of its output often seems to involve external effects, e.g. through human rights-based access issues.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomas Philipson & Stephane Mechoulan, 2003. "Intellectual Property & External Consumption Effects: Generalizations from Pharmaceutical Markets," NBER Working Papers 9598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9598 Note: HE HC
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gene M. Grossman & Edwin L.-C. Lai, 2004. "International Protection of Intellectual Property," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1635-1653, December.
    2. Philipson, Tomas, 2000. "Economic epidemiology and infectious diseases," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 33, pages 1761-1799 Elsevier.
    3. Jones, Charles I & Williams, John C, 2000. "Too Much of a Good Thing? The Economics of Investment in R&D," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 65-85, March.
    4. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1992. "Medical Care Costs: How Much Welfare Loss?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-21, Summer.
    5. Parry, Ian & Pizer, William & Fischer, Carolyn, 2000. "How Important is Technological Innovation in Protecting the Environment?," Discussion Papers dp-00-15, Resources For the Future.
    6. Michael Kremer, 2002. "Pharmaceuticals and the Developing World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 67-90, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kessing, Sebastian G. & Nuscheler, Robert, 2006. "Monopoly pricing with negative network effects: The case of vaccines," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 1061-1069, May.
    2. Tomas J. Philipson & Gary Becker & Dana Goldman & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "Terminal Care and The Value of Life Near Its End," NBER Working Papers 15649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kuhn, Michael & Wrzaczek, Stefan & Prskawetz, Alexia & Feichtinger, Gustav, 2011. "Externalities in a life cycle model with endogenous survival," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(4-5), pages 627-641.
    4. Philipson Tomas J & Jena Anupam B, 2006. "Who Benefits from New Medical Technologies? Estimates of Consumer and Producer Surpluses for HIV/AIDS Drugs," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 1-33, January.
    5. Laxminarayan, Ramanan & Parry, Ian W.H. & Smith, David L. & Klein, Eili Y., 2010. "Should new antimalarial drugs be subsidized?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 445-456, May.
    6. Darius Lakdawalla & Neeraj Sood, 2005. "Insurance and Innovation in Health Care Markets," NBER Working Papers 11602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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