NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of Pharmaceutical Innovation on Premature Cancer Mortality in Canada, 2000-2011

Frank R. Lichtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 21239
Issued in June 2015
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

The premature cancer mortality rate has been declining in Canada, but there has been considerable variation in the rate of decline across cancer sites. I analyze the effect that pharmaceutical innovation had on premature cancer mortality in Canada during the period 2000-2011, by investigating whether the cancer sites that experienced more pharmaceutical innovation had larger declines in the premature mortality rate, controlling for changes in the incidence rate.

The estimates imply that pharmaceutical innovation during the period 1985-1996 reduced the number of years of potential life lost to cancer before age 75 in 2011 by 105,366. The cost per life-year before age 75 gained from previous pharmaceutical innovation is estimated to have been 2730 USD. The evidence suggests that, even if these drugs had been sold at branded rather than generic prices, the cost per life-year gained would have been below 11,000 USD, a figure well below even the lowest estimates of the value of a life-year gained.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21239

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