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Benefits and Costs of Newer Drugs: An Update

Frank Lichtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 8996
Issued in June 2002
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Public Economics

We update and extend our previous study of the effect of drug age -- years since FDA approval -- on total medical expenditure, in several respects. The estimates indicate that, in the entire population, a reduction in the age of drugs utilized reduces non-drug expenditure 7.2 times as much as it increases drug expenditure. In the Medicare population, a reduction in the age of drugs utilized reduces non-drug expenditure by all payers 8.3 times as much as it increases drug expenditure; it reduces Medicare non-drug expenditure 6.0 times as much as it increases drug expenditure. About two-thirds of the non-drug Medicare cost reduction is due to reduced hospital costs. The remaining third is approximately evenly divided between reduced Medicare home health care cost and reduced Medicare office-visit cost. We also found that the mean age of drugs used by Medicare enrollees with private Rx insurance is about 9% lower than the mean age of drugs used by Medicare enrollees without either private or public Rx insurance.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8996

Published: Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2007. "Benefits and costs of newer drugs: an update," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4-5), pages 485-490. citation courtesy of

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