Robert Porter delivers 46th BSE Lecture

Group photo of Teresa Garcia-Milà, Robert Porter, Juan José Ganuza, and Sofía Rodríguez

Photo (from left): Teresa Garcia-Milà (BSE Director), Robert Porter (Northwestern), Juan-José Ganuza (UPF and BSE), and Sofía Rodríguez (Banc Sabadell Chief Economist)

Professor Porter spoke about the incidence and durability of collusion in the case of generic prescription drugs in the United States.

Robert Porter (Northwestern University) delivered the 46th Barcelona School of Economics Lecture, "The Incidence and Durability of Collusion: The Case of US Generic Prescription Drugs," on April 16, 2024 at the Col·legi d'Economistes de Catalunya in Barcelona. This lecture series receives support from Banc Sabadell.

Video: Highlights from Professor Porter's lecture

Related research by Robert Porter:

“Entry Barriers, Personal Relationships, and Cartel Formation: Generic Drugs in the United States” (with E. Cuddy, A. Starc, and T. Wollmann) in J. Harrington and M.P. Schinkel, eds., Cartels Diagnosed: New Insights on Collusion, Cambridge University Press, 2024.

Watch the full BSE Lecture on YouTube

Banc Sabadell Chief Economist Sofía Rodríguez and BSE Affiliated Professor Juan-José Ganuza (UPF and BSE) introduced Professor Porter's lecture.

Above and beyond economic harm

The markets for auto parts, foreclosure auctions, and even canned tuna have been investigated for collusion in the United States in recent years. During his lecture, Professor Porter outlined the case of what he said was possibly "the largest price fixing case in US history," the cartelization of generic drug markets.

More than 90% of prescriptions filled in the US are for generic medications. During the 2010s, cartels formed in more than 109 generic drug markets, and the prices of many commonly prescribed drugs skyrocketed. Unlike overpriced fish and car parts, consumers don't have many options when their medications get too expensive.

"It's terrible from the point of view of harm beyond economic harm," Professor Porter said. "If people are no longer taking these prescribed medicines, you could have quite adverse health consequences. So forget about the economic consequences. The health consequences were catastrophic."

About the Barcelona School of Economics Lecture Series

logoFor over 20 years, the BSE Lecture Series has brought the world's top economists from universities, central banks, and international organizations to Barcelona to share their research on a range of topics on specialized theory and practice. The series receives support from Banc Sabadell.

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