NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of New Drugs on Mortality from Rare Diseases and HIV

Frank R. Lichtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 8677
Issued in December 2001
NBER Program(s):   HC

I investigate the effect of large increases in the number of drugs available to treat rare diseases and HIV on mortality associated with them. Mortality from both diseases declined dramatically following increases in drug approvals. Before the Orphan Drug Act went into effect (between 1979 and 1984), mortality from rare diseases grew at the same rate as mortality from other diseases. In contrast, during the next five years, mortality from rare diseases grew more slowly than mortality from other diseases. I estimate that one additional orphan drug approval in year t prevents 211 deaths in year t+1 and ultimately prevents 499 deaths, and that about 108 thousand deaths from rare diseases will ultimately be prevented by all of the 216 orphan drugs tha t have been approved since 1983. Deaths are more closely related to the number of orphan product designations (which include experimental drugs) than they are to the number of approvals. Consistent with previous patient- level studies of HIV, I find that new drugs played a key role in the post-1995 decline in HIV mortality. I estimate that one additional HIV drug approval in year t prevents 5986 HIV deaths in year t+1 and ultimately prevents 33,819 HIV deaths. HIV drug approvals have reduced mortality both directly and indirectly (via increased drug consumption). HIV mortality depends on both the quality and the quantity of medications consumed, and new drug approvals have a sizeable impact on drug consumption: one additional HIV drug approval in year t results in 1.2 million additional HIV drug units consumed in year t+1 and ultimately result in 3.6 million additional HIV drug units consumed.

download in pdf format
   (113 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the May 2002 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (113 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8677

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Philipson and Jena w11810 Who Benefits from New Medical Technologies? Estimates of Consumer and Producer Surpluses for HIV/AIDS Drugs
Duggan and Evans w11109 Estimating the Impact of Medical Innovation: A Case Study of HIV Antiretroviral Treatments
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us