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One Lab, Two Firms, Many Possibilities: on R&D outsourcing in the biopharmaceutical industry

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  • Billette de Villemeur, Etienne
  • Versaevel, Bruno

Abstract

We draw from documented characteristics of the biopharmaceutical industry to construct a model where two firms can choose to outsource R&D to an external unit, and/or engage in internal R&D, before competing in a final market. We investigate the tension between outsourced and internal operations, the distribution of profits among market participants, and the incentives to coordinate outsourcing activities, or to integrate R&D and production. Consistent with the empirical evidence, we find that: (1) each firm’s internal R&D activity is monotonic in the technology received from the external unit, and the sign of the relationship does not depend on the technology received or generated by the competitor; (2) a measure of direct and indirect technological externalities drives the distribution of industry profits, with lower returns to an external unit involved in research (drug discovery) than in development (clinical trials); (3) upstream entry is stimulated by the long-term perspective for the external unit’s owners to earn a larger share of industry profits by selling out assets to a client firm than by running operations. However, in the case of early-stage research, the delinkage of investment incentives from industry value, and the vulnerability of investors’ returns to negative shocks, both suggest the abandonment of projects with economic and medical value as a likely consequence of R&D outsourcing.

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  • Billette de Villemeur, Etienne & Versaevel, Bruno, 2017. "One Lab, Two Firms, Many Possibilities: on R&D outsourcing in the biopharmaceutical industry," MPRA Paper 76903, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:76903
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    Cited by:

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    4. Billette de Villemeur, Etienne & Versaevel, Bruno, 2019. "One lab, two firms, many possibilities: On R&D outsourcing in the biopharmaceutical industry," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 260-283.
    5. Cisnetto, Valentina & Barlow, James, 2020. "The development of complex and controversial innovations. Genetically modified mosquitoes for malaria eradication," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(3).
    6. Billette de Villemeur, Etienne & Scannell, Jack & Versaevel, Bruno, 2021. "Biopharmaceutical R&D outsourcing: Short-term gain for long-term pain?," MPRA Paper 108233, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    research; development; biotechnology; pharmaceuticals; externalities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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