The Effect of Drug Vintage on Survival: Micro Evidence from Puerto Rico's Medicaid Program

Frank R. Lichtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 10884
Issued in November 2004
NBER Program(s):Health Economics, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Using micro data on virtually all of the drugs and diseases of over 500,000 people enrolled in Puerto Rico's Medicaid program, we examine the impact of the vintage (original FDA approval year) of drugs used to treat a patient on the patient's 3-year probability of survival, controlling for demographic characteristics (age, sex, and region), utilization of medical services, and the nature and complexity of illness. We find that people using newer drugs during January-June 2000 were less likely to die by the end of 2002, conditional on the covariates. The estimated mortality rates are strictly declining with respect to drug vintage. For pre-1970 drugs, the estimated mortality rate is 4.4%. The mortality rates for 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s drugs are 3.6%, 3.0%, and 2.5%, respectively. The actual mortality rate is about 16% (3.7% vs. 4.4%) lower than it would have been if all of the drugs utilized in 2000 had been pre-1970 drugs. Estimates for subgroups of people with specific diseases display the same general pattern.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10884

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