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Lichtenberg says pharmaceuticals increase life expectancy

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jul• 15•08

Frank Lichtenberg has two working papers Lichtenberg (#14008) and Lichtenberg and Duflos (#14009), which show that pharmaceuticals have worked to increase life expectancy.

The first paper examines new cardiovascular drugs and finds that new cardiovascular drugs decreased mortality and hospitalizations in OECD countries. If drugs vintage had not increased from 1995-2004: 1) hospitalization and mortality would have been higher in 2004, 2) per capita expenditure on cardiovascular hospital stays would have been 70% ($89) higher in 2004, 2) per capita expenditure on cardiovascular drugs would have been lower ($24) in 2004, but this is outweighed by the fact that per capita expenditure on cardiovascular hospital stays would have been 70% ($89) higher in 2004.

The second paper looks at data from Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The authors estimate that “using newer drugs (increasing drug vintage) increased life expectancy by 1.23 years and increased lifetime drug expenditure by $12,976.” This implies that the cost per life-year saved from using newer drugs is $10,585, which is far below most estimates of the value of a life year.

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