Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 1/2014: Price Regulation and Parallel Imports of Pharmaceuticals.

Kurt R. Brekke (), Tor Helge Holmås () and Odd Rune Straume ()
Additional contact information
Kurt R. Brekke: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Tor Helge Holmås: Uni Rokkan Centre, Postal: Uni Rokkan Centre, , Nygårdsgaten 5, , N-5015 Bergen, Norway
Odd Rune Straume: University of Minho, Postal: NIPE, University of Minho , Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

Abstract: This paper studies the effects of price regulation and parallel imports in the on-patent pharmaceutical market. First, we develop a theory model in which a pharmacy negotiates producer prices with a brand-name firm and then sets retail prices. We show that the effects of price regulation crucially depend on whether the producer faces competition from parallel imports. While parallel imports improve the bargaining position of the pharmacy, price regulation counteracts this effect and may even be profitable for the producer. Second, we use a unique dataset with information on sales and prices at both producer and retail level for 165 substances over four years (2004-7). Exploiting exogenous variation in the regulated price caps, we show that stricter price regulation reduces competition from parallel imports. While the effect is clearly negative on producer profits for substances without parallel imports, the e¤ect is not significant for substances with parallel imports. Finally, we show that stricter price regulation reduces total expenditures, but the e¤ect is much stronger for substances with parallel import. Thus, our results suggest that price regulation may promote both static and dynamic efficiency in the presence of parallel imports.

Keywords: Pharmaceutical market; Price regulation; Parallel imports.

JEL-codes: I11; I18; L13; L51; L65

38 pages, January 10, 2014

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