The Impact of Pharmaceutical Policy Measures: A Structural-Break Approach

Pedro P. Barros

Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Luis M.R.C. Nunes

New University of Lisbon

March 20, 2009

Pharmaceutical spending in many other countries has had a steep increase in the last decade. The Portuguese Government has adopted several measures to reduce pharmaceutical expenditure growth, ranging from increased co-payments to price decreases determined administratively. Promotion of generic consumption has also ranked high in political priorities.

We assess the overall impact of the several policy measures on total pharmaceutical spending, using monthly data over the period January 1995 - August 2008. Endogenous structural breaks (time-series) methods were employed.

Our findings suggest that, in general, policy measures aimed at controlling pharmaceutical expenditure have been unsuccessful. Two breaks were identified. Both coincide with administratively determined price decreases. Measures aimed at increasing competition in the market had no visible effect on the dynamics of Government spending in pharmaceutical products. In particular, the introduction of reference pricing had only a transitory effect of less than one year, with historical growth resuming quickly.

The consequence of this ineffectiveness is a transfer of financial burden from the Government to the patients, with no apparent effect on the dynamics of pharmaceutical spending. This strongly suggests that pharmaceutical companies have been able to adjust to policy measures, in order to sustain their sales. It remains a challenge for the future to identify firms' strategies that supported continued growth of sales, despite the several policy measures adopted.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 22

Keywords: Pharmaceutical expenditures, structural breaks

JEL Classification: I11,I18

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Date posted: March 22, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Barros, Pedro P. and Nunes, Luis M.R.C., The Impact of Pharmaceutical Policy Measures: A Structural-Break Approach (March 20, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1365871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1365871

Contact Information

Pedro Luis Pita Barros (Contact Author)
Universidade Nova de Lisboa ( email )
Campus de Campolide
Lisboa, 1099-032
+351 21 383 3624 (Phone)
+351 21 388 6073 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://ppbarros.fe.unl.pt
Luis M.R.C. Nunes
New University of Lisbon
Lisboa, 1099-032
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