Does Misery Love Company? Evidence from pharmaceutical markets before and after the Orphan Drug Act
NBER Working Paper No. 9750
With substantial fixed costs of drug development, more common conditions can support more products. If additional pharmaceutical products are beneficial, they will attract greater consumption and promote better health, e.g. greater longevity. We ask how market size measured by condition prevalence affects consumption and longevity. We document in condition cross sections that both the tendency to use a drug and longevity are higher for individuals with more prevalent conditions. We also make use of the 1983 Orphan Drug Act (ODA), which promoted development of drugs for the treatment of rare conditions. Longevity and drug use have grown more quickly for persons with rare diseases and even more quickly for persons with conditions with substantial orphan drug use.