NBER Working Papers by Eric C. Sun

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Working Papers

December 2009The Effects of Product Liability Exemption in the Presence of the FDA
with Tomas J. Philipson, Dana Goldman: w15603
In the United States, drugs are jointly regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, which oversees premarket clinical trials designed to ensure drug safety and efficacy, and the liability system, which allows patients to sue manufacturers for unsafe drugs. In this paper, we examine the potential welfare effects of this dual system aimed at ensuring the safety of medical products, and conclude that product liability exemptions for FDA regulated activities could raise economic efficiency. We show that while reductions in liability, such those associated with pre-emption, may lower welfare in the absence of the FDA, they may raise welfare in its presence. In the presence of the FDA, product liability may reduce efficiency by raising prices without pushing firms, who are already bound by...

Published: The Effects of Product Liability Exemption in the Presence of the FDA, Tomas J. Philipson, Eric Sun, Dana Goldman. in Regulation vs. Litigation: Perspectives from Economics and Law, Kessler. 2011

An Economic Evaluation of the War on Cancer
with Anupam B. Jena, Darius N. Lakdawalla, Carolina M. Reyes, Tomas J. Philipson, Dana P. Goldman: w15574
For decades, the US public and private sectors have committed substantial resources towards cancer research, but the societal payoff has not been well-understood. We quantify the value of recent gains in cancer survival, and analyze the distribution of value among various stakeholders. Between 1988 and 2000, life expectancy for cancer patients increased by roughly four years, and the average willingness-to-pay for these survival gains was roughly $322,000. Improvements in cancer survival during this period created 23 million additional life-years and roughly $1.9 trillion of additional social value, implying that the average life-year was worth approximately $82,000 to its recipient. Health care providers and pharmaceutical companies appropriated 5-19% of this total, with the rest accr...

Published: Lakdawalla, Darius N. & Sun, Eric C. & Jena, Anupam B. & Reyes, Carolina M. & Goldman, Dana P. & Philipson, Tomas J., 2010. "An economic evaluation of the war on cancer," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 333-346, May. citation courtesy of

July 2008The Value of Life in General Equilibrium
with Anupam Jena, Casey Mulligan, Tomas J. Philipson: w14157
Perhaps the most important change of the last century was the great expansion of life itself -- in the US alone, life expectancy increased from 48 to 78 years. Recent economic estimates confirm this claim, finding that the economic value of the gain in longevity was on par with the value of growth in material well-being, as measured by income per capita. However, ever since Malthus, economists have recognized that demographic changes are linked to economic behavior and vice versa. Put simply, living with others who live 78 years is different than living with others who live only 48 years, so that valuing the extra 30 years of life is not simply a matter of valuing the extra years a single individual lives. The magnitude by which such valuations differ is overstated when there are increasi...
October 2007Is the Food and Drug Administration Safe and Effective?
with Tomas J. Philipson: w13561
In the United States, drug safety and efficacy are primarily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the legal system, which gives manufacturers large incentives to produce safe drugs and provide proper warnings for side effects, since patients can sue manufacturers that provide unsafe drugs and/or insufficient warnings.

In this paper, we begin by examining the efficiency implications of this joint regulation of drug safety. We find that joint regulation of drug safety can be inefficient when the regulatory authority mandates a binding and well enforced level of safety investment. In this case, product liability has no effect on a firm's safety investment, but affects welfare by raising a firm's costs and therefore prices. Using these results, we calibrate a model...

Published: Tomas J. Philipson & Eric Sun, 2008. "Is the Food And Drug Administration Safe And Effective?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 85-102, Winter. citation courtesy of

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