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Did Medicare Induce Pharmaceutical Innovation?

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Listed:
  • Daron Acemoglu
  • David Cutler
  • Amy Finkelstein
  • Joshua Linn

Abstract

The introduction of Medicare in 1965 was the single largest change in health insurance coverage in U.S. history. Many economists and commentators have conjectured that the introduction of Medicare may have also been an important impetus for the development of new drugs that are now commonly used by the elderly and have substantially extended their life expectancy. In this paper, we investigate whether Medicare induced pharmaceutical innovations directed towards the elderly. Medicare could have played such a role only if two conditions were met. First, Medicare would have to increase drug spending by the elderly. Second, the pharmaceutical companies would have to respond to the change in market size for drugs caused by Medicare by changing the direction of their research. Our empirical work finds no evidence of a "first-stage" effect of Medicare on prescription drug expenditure by the elderly. Correspondingly, we also find no evidence of a shift in pharmaceutical innovation towards therapeutic categories most used by the elderly. On the whole, therefore, our evidence does not provide support for the hypothesis that Medicare had a major effect on the direction of pharmaceutical innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & David Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Joshua Linn, 2006. "Did Medicare Induce Pharmaceutical Innovation?," NBER Working Papers 11949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11949
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1999. "Distribution-free estimation of some nonlinear panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 77-97, May.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & David Cutler & Amy Finkelstein & Joshua Linn, 2006. "Did Medicare Induce Pharmaceutical Innovation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 103-107, May.
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    6. Amy Finkelstein & Robin McKnight, 2005. "What Did Medicare Do (And Was It Worth It)?," NBER Working Papers 11609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics

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