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Health Policy and Technological Change: Evidence from the Vaccine Industry

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  • Amy Finkelstein
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    Abstract

    Rapid technological progress has been a defining feature of the medical sector over the last century, yet we know little about the determinants of the development of these new technologies. This paper examines whether and to what extent the demand-side incentives embodied in health policy affect the rate of technological change in the medical sector. Specifically, I estimate the effect on vaccine investment of discrete changes in health policy that increased the return to developing vaccines against specific diseases. I present robust evidence of an increase in vaccine investment associated with the increase in demand-side investment incentives. The induced investment represents 70% of the total subsequent vaccine investment in the affected diseases, and suggests that a $1 increase in annual market revenue for a vaccine is associated with 5 to 6 cents of additional investment in that vaccine's development. However, this response appears limited to the last stage of the R&D pipeline clinical trials which represents the commercialization of existing technology; I am unable to detect evidence of an investment response at earlier stages as measured by pre-clinical trials or patent filings that represent more of an attempt to develop fundamentally new technologies. Finally, I present suggestive evidence that the potential dynamic health benefits from the technological change induced by the policies are at least as large as the static health benefits from the policies' primary aim of increasing vaccination rates with the existing technology. These results suggest that the near-exclusive focus on static health benefits in empirical evaluations of health policies is inadequate.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9460.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9460

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    1. Abadie, Alberto & Gardeazabal, Javier, 2001. "The Economic Costs of Conflict: A Case-Control Study for the Basque Country," Working Paper Series rwp01-048, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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    7. Hall, Bronwyn & Van Reenen, John, 2000. "How effective are fiscal incentives for R&D? A review of the evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 449-469, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Laura Magazzini & Fabio Pammolli & Massimo Riccaboni, 2009. "Nuove politiche per l'innovazione nel settore delle scienze della vita," Working Papers 03-2009, Competitività Regole Mecati (CERM).
    2. Winghan Kwong & Edward Norton, 2007. "The Effect of Advertising on Pharmaceutical Innovation," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 221-236, November.
    3. Tomas Philipson & Stephane Mechoulan & Anupam Jena, 2006. "Health Care, Technological Change, and Altruistic Consumption Externalities," NBER Working Papers 11930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christina M. L. Kelton & Robert P. Rebelein, 2007. "A General-Equilibrium Analysis of Public Policy for Pharmaceutical Prices," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(2), pages 285-318, 04.
    5. Patricia M. Danzon & Andrew Epstein & Sean Nicholson, 2004. "Mergers and Acquisitions in the Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industries," NBER Working Papers 10536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. F.M. Scherer, 2007. "An industrial organization perspective on the influenza vaccine shortage," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4-5), pages 393-405.

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