Fiona M. Scott Morton
This paper asserts that brand pharmaceutical firms (those mostly involved in the invention and production of new drugs) engage in a set of complementary activities that are different from those of generic pharmaceutical firms (those that primarily make off-patent medicines). Complementarities of the Milgrom-Roberts variety within, but not across, these two kinds of firms make it more efficient for pharmaceutical firms to specialize in either brand or generic production. Using FDA data, I show that this is indeed the case. I then examine the firms that produce both types of drugs to see if there are market-level strategic synergies between brand and generic products. I find generic entrants that belong to a corporation that owns the brand in the market are (1) not more likely to enter, (2) not more likely to be approved faster, and (3) not more likely to deter other generics from entering. Thus the advantage, or synergy, from mixing brand and generic activities in one corporation must arise elsewhere in the operations of the firm. If not, the integrated pharmaceutical firm is not the most efficient organizational form for the production of ethical drugs.