NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Cross-National Evidence on Generic Pharmaceuticals: Pharmacy vs. Physician-Driven Markets

Patricia M. Danzon, Michael F. Furukawa

NBER Working Paper No. 17226
Issued in July 2011
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE

This paper examines the role of regulation and competition in generic markets. Generics offer large potential savings to payers and consumers of pharmaceuticals. Whether the potential savings are realized depends on the extent of generic entry and uptake and the level of generic prices. In the U.S., the regulatory, legal and incentive structures encourage prompt entry, aggressive price competition and patient switching to generics. Key features are that pharmacists are authorized and incentivized to switch patients to cheap generics. By contrast, in many other high and middle income countries, generics traditionally competed on brand rather than price because physicians rather than pharmacies are the decision-makers. Physician-driven generic markets tend to have higher generic prices and may have lower generic uptake, depending on regulations and incentives.

Using IMS data to analyze generic markets in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, U.K., Italy, Spain, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil over the period 1998-2009, we estimate a three-equation model for number of generic entrants, generic prices and generic volume shares. We find little effect of originator defense strategies, significant differences between unbranded and unbranded generics, variation across countries in volume response to prices. Policy changes adopted to stimulate generic uptake and reduce generic prices have been successful in some E.U. countries.

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