The price of cost-effectiveness thresholds under therapeutic competition in pharmaceutical markets
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionJournal of Health Economics. 2023, 90, 102778. 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2023.102778
Health systems around world are increasingly adopting cost-effectiveness (CE) analysis to inform decisions about access and reimbursement. We study how CE thresholds imposed by a health plan for granting reimbursement affect drug producers’ pricing incentives and patients’ access to new drugs. Analysing a sequential pricing game between an incumbent drug producer and a potential entrant with a new drug, we show that CE thresholds may have adverse effects for payers and patients. A stricter CE threshold may induce the incumbent to switch pricing strategy from entry accommodation to entry deterrence, limiting patients’ access to the new drug. Otherwise, irrespective of whether entry is deterred or accommodated, a stricter CE threshold is never pro-competitive and may in fact facilitate a collusive outcome with higher prices of both drugs. Compared to a laissez-faire policy, the use of CE thresholds when an incumbent monopolist is challenged by therapeutic substitutes can only increase the surplus of a health plan if it leads to entry deterrence. In this case the price reduction by the incumbent necessary to deter entry outweighs the health loss to patients who do not get access to the new drug.