Discussion paper

DP11487 The Effects of Pharmaceutical Innovation on Cancer Mortality

Cancer is a leading cause of death in developed countries, and cancer treatments are the
top category of pharmaceutical spending in the United States and Europe. This paper assesses
whether novel cancer therapies are associated with a reduction in mortality. Using panel data
from 11 developed countries, we study the relationship between mortality attributed to a specific
cancer site and the availability of pharmaceutical treatments. The cross-country and cross-site
variation over time allows us to isolate the decline in mortality attributable to new drugs from
that due to changes in lifestyle and environmental factors. We correct for the endogeneity
of mortality and the availability of new treatments using instrumental variables. On average,
our results show a decline in mortality of 8-9% is associated with the availability of one new
treatment for a cancer site. The gains vary across countries and cancer sites. Based on spending
from 2000-2011, costs per statistical life saved ranged from $11-12K for bladder and liver cancers
to over $150K for cervical, melanoma and stomach cancers. Across countries, Switzerland had
the largest spending per statistical life at approximately $66K, while the UK had the lowest
with $19K.


Kyle, M and P Dubois (eds) (2016), “DP11487 The Effects of Pharmaceutical Innovation on Cancer Mortality”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 11487. https://new.cepr.org/publications/dp11487