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Do Firms Underinvest in Long-Term Research? Evidence from Cancer Clinical Trials

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  • Eric Budish
  • Benjamin N. Roin
  • Heidi Williams

Abstract

We investigate whether private research investments are distorted away from long-term projects. Our theoretical model highlights two potential sources of this distortion: short-termism and the fixed patent term. Our empirical context is cancer research, where clinical trials—and hence, project durations—are shorter for late-stage cancer treatments relative to early-stage treatments or cancer prevention. Using newly constructed data, we document several sources of evidence that together show private research investments are distorted away from long-term projects. The value of life-years at stake appears large. We analyze three potential policy responses: surrogate (non-mortality) clinical-trial endpoints, targeted R&D subsidies, and patent design. (JEL D92, G31, I11, L65, O31, O34)

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Budish & Benjamin N. Roin & Heidi Williams, 2015. "Do Firms Underinvest in Long-Term Research? Evidence from Cancer Clinical Trials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2044-2085, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:7:p:2044-85
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20131176
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lee Branstetter & Chirantan Chatterjee & Matthew J. Higgins, 2014. "Starving (or Fattening) the Golden Goose?: Generic Entry and the Incentives for Early-Stage Pharmaceutical Innovation," NBER Working Papers 20532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Walter Buhr, 2018. "Institutional Economics: A Sketch of Economic Growth Policy," Volkswirtschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 183-18, Universität Siegen, Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wirtschaftsrecht.
    3. Mark Pauly & Kyle Myers, 2016. "A Ricardian-Demand Explanation for Changing Pharmaceutical R&D Productivity," NBER Working Papers 22720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:2:p:345-357 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul & Purkus, Alexandra & Söderholm, Patrik & Witte, Katherina, 2016. "The rationales for technology-specific renewable energy support: Conceptual arguments and their relevance for Germany," UFZ Discussion Papers 4/2016, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    6. Jeffrey Clemens & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2017. "In the Shadow of a Giant: Medicare’s Influence on Private Physician Payments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-39.
    7. Isabel Busom & Beatriz Corchuelo & Ester Martínez-Ros, 2017. "Participation inertia in R&D tax incentive and subsidy programs," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 153-177, January.
    8. Stern, Ariel Dora, 2017. "Innovation under regulatory uncertainty: Evidence from medical technology," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 181-200.
    9. Eric Budish & Benjamin N. Roin & Heidi Williams, 2016. "Patents and Research Investments: Assessing the Empirical Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 183-187, May.
    10. Jeffrey Clemens, 2012. "The Effect of U.S. Health Insurance Expansions on Medical Innovation," Discussion Papers 11-016, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    11. Heidi L. Williams, 2016. "Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from Health Care Markets," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 53-87.
    12. repec:nbr:nberch:13994 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:2:p:440-461 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:kap:revind:v:53:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11151-018-9621-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul & Purkus, Alexandra & Söderholm, Patrik & Witte, Katherina, 2017. "Rationales for technology-specific RES support and their relevance for German policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 16-26.
    16. Joshua L. Krieger & Danielle Li & Dimitris Papanikolaou, 2018. "Developing Novel Drugs," NBER Working Papers 24595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Jeffrey Clemens & Stan Veuger, 2017. "Risks To The Returns To Medical Innovation: The Case Of Myriad Genetics," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 345-357, April.
    18. Amitabh Chandra & Craig Garthwaite & Ariel Dora Stern, 2018. "Characterizing the Drug Development Pipeline for Precision Medicines," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Dimensions of Personalized and Precision Medicine National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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