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Health Policy and Technological Change: Evidence from the Vaccine Industry

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  • Amy Finkelstein

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Amy Finkelstein, 2003. "Health Policy and Technological Change: Evidence from the Vaccine Industry," NBER Working Papers 9460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9460 Note: HC PR PE
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    Cited by:

    1. Winghan Kwong & Edward Norton, 2007. "The Effect of Advertising on Pharmaceutical Innovation," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 31(3), pages 221-236, November.
    2. 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.
    3. John A. Romley & Neeraj Sood, 2013. "Identifying the Health Production Function: The Case of Hospitals," NBER Working Papers 19490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cozzi, Guido & Impullitti, Giammario, 2006. "Technological policy and wage inequality," MPRA Paper 10140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Patricia M. Danzon & Andrew Epstein & Sean Nicholson, 2007. "Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(4-5), pages 307-328.
    6. Laura Magazzini & Fabio Pammolli & Massimo Riccaboni, 2009. "Nuove politiche per l'innovazione nel settore delle scienze della vita," Working Papers CERM 03-2009, Competitività, Regole, Mercati (CERM).
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Linn, 2004. "Market Size in Innovation: Theory and Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1049-1090.
    8. 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, April.
    9. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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