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Price Discrimination and Bargaining Power in the Global Vaccine Market

By Linda Li

Since the 1980’s, the market structure of vaccines has become increasingly oligopolistic, and in some cases monopolistic. Alongside these supply trends, we see the emergence and growth of group procurement schemes on the demand side of the market. National government and international organization procure vaccines on behalf of end users. Two such organizations include the UNICEF Supply Division and the PAHO EPI Revolving Fund, for which participation is based on income or geography. Consistent with one of the main goals of group procurement, these groups obtain price discounts on vaccines relative to the private sector. This paper seeks to disentangle two possible explanations for this observed price dispersion using vaccine price data over the years 2002-2012 from UNICEF, PAHO, and the U.S. The two explanations are that of price discrimination and bargaining power. Using proxy variables in a fixed effects model, I find that price discrimination does have a significant impact on price discount. I also find support for a bargaining power effect, however with less certainty, and the existence of supply constraints. These findings have important policy implications for national governments, as well as procurement groups.

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Advisor: David Ridley | JEL Codes: I11, I18, L22 | Tagged: Bargaining Power, Group Procurement, Price Discrimination, Vaaccines

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