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The purpose of this study is to estimate the own- and cross-price elasticity of brand-name outpatient prescription drug cost-sharing for maintenance medications and to estimate the effects of changes in the price differential between generic and brand-name prescription drugs. We first review the literature on the effects of an increase in brand-name drug patient cost-sharing. In addition, we analyze two examples of utilization patterns in filling behavior associated with an increase in brand-name cost-sharing for patients in employer-sponsored health plans with chronic illness. We found that the own-price elasticity of demand for brand-name prescription drugs was inelastic. However, the cross-price elasticity was not consistent in sign, and utilization patterns for generic prescription fills did not always increase after a rise in brand-name cost-sharing. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS: The empirical examples are limited to the experience of patients with employer-sponsored health insurance. The common practice of increasing brand-name prescription drug patient cost-sharing to increase consumption of generic drugs may not always result in higher generic medication use. Higher brand-name drug cost-sharing levels may result in discontinuation of chronic therapies, instead of therapeutic switching. The value of this chapter is its singular focus on the effects of higher brand-name drug cost-sharing through a synthesis of the literature examining the own- and cross-price elasticity of demand for brand-name medications and two empirical examples of the effects of changes in brand-name cost-sharing.


Teresa Bernard Gibson, Catherine G McLaughlin, Dean G Smith. Generic utilization and cost-sharing for prescription drugs. Advances in health economics and health services research. 2010;22:195-219

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PMID: 20575234

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