Frank Lichtenberg

The Impact of New Drug Launches on Longevity: From 52 Countries, 1982-2001

We perform an econometric analysis of the effect of new drug launches on longevity, using data from the IMS Health Drug Launches database and the WHO Mortality Database. Our data cover virtually all of the diseases borne by people in 52 countries during the period 1982-2001 and enable us to control, to an unusually great extent, for the effects of other potential determinants of longevity, e.g., education, income, nutrition, the environment, and "lifestyle." We find that launches of new chemical entities (NCEs) have a strong positive impact on the probability of survival. Launches of (older) drugs that are not NCEs-many of which may already have been on the market-do not increase longevity. NCE launches appear to explain little of the international variation in longevity but account for a significant fraction of the long-run increase in longevity in the sample as a whole. Between 1986 and 2000, average life expectancy of the entire population of sample countries increased by almost two (1.96) years. Our estimates imply that NCE launches accounted for 0.79 years (40 percent) of the 1986-2000 increase in longevity. The average annual increase in life expectancy of the entire population resulting from NCE launches is .056 years, or 2.93 weeks. Our results suggest that launch delays reduce longevity and that the cost per life-year gained from the launch of NCEs is extremely low.

Source: Working paper
Exact Citation:
Lichtenberg, Frank. "The Impact of New Drug Launches on Longevity: From 52 Countries, 1982-2001." Working paper, Columbia Business School, 2005.
Date: 2005