JOURNAL ARTICLE

Do pharmaceutical prices respond to potential patient out-of-pocket expenses?

Nina Pavenik
Rand Journal of Economics 2002, 33 (3): 469-87
12585303
Despite the importance of patient insurance in the market for prescription pharmaceuticals, little is known about the impact of patient reimbursement on the pricing behavior of pharmaceutical firms. I examine the link between potential patient out-of-pocket expenses and pharmaceutical pricing using a unique policy experiment from Germany. Starting in 1989, a maximum reimbursement for a given medicine replaced a flat prescription fee. This change in reimbursement exposes the patient to the price of a prescribed product. Using a product-level panel data set covering several therapeutic categories before and after the policy change, I find that producers significantly decrease prices after the change in potential patient out-of-pocket expenses. Price declines are most pronounced for brand-name products. Moreover, branded products that face more generic competitors reduce prices more.

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