To achieve appropriate and sustainable price differences will require either that higher-income countries forego trying to “import” low drug prices from low-income countries, through parallel trade and external referencing, or that such practices become less feasible. The most promising approach that would prevent both parallel trade and external referencing is for payers/purchasers on behalf of developing countries to negotiate contracts with companies that include confidential rebates. With confidential rebates, final transactions prices to purchasers can differ across markets while manufacturers sell to distributors at uniform prices, thus eliminating opportunities for parallel trade and external referencing.
The option of compulsory licensing of patented products to generic manufacturers may be important if they truly have lower production costs or originators charge prices above marginal cost, despite market separation. However, given the risks inherent in compulsory licensing, it seems best to first try the approach of strengthening market separation, to enable originator firms to maintain differential pricing. With assured market separation, originators may offer prices comparable to the prices that a local generic firm would charge, which eliminates the need for compulsory licensing.
International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics