Studying Economic Impact Of HIV/AIDS Drug Development

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Research!America presented its 2007 Eugene Garfield Economic Impact of Medical and Health Research Award to two University of Chicago economists. Tomas Philipson, Ph.D., and Anupam Jena, Ph.D., were honored for their study "Who Benefits from New Medical Technologies?" published in Forum for Health Economics and Policy.

Using a novel approach, Philipson and Jena measure the value of HIV/AIDS drugs developed from 1980 to 2000. They calculate nearly $1.4 trillion in total value -- past and future -- to consumers from these drugs, based on the resulting gains in survival. They also estimate past and future profits for producers of the drugs to be nearly $63 billion -- or 5% of the total value. The authors conclude that such relatively low profits could reduce the incentive for producers to develop future HIV/AIDS treatments. They recommend exploring ways to raise the value to producers of new medical technologies in order to encourage further innovation.

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Mark McClellan, MD, Ph.D., former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, and Eugene Garfield, Ph.D., the award benefactor, presented the award to Philipson and Jena today in Washington, DC. The award is named for Garfield, president and founding editor of The Scientist and creator of the Science Citation Index. McClellan headed the award selection committee. Both are Research!America board members.

Presenting the award, McClellan noted the contributions of past recipients and the need to build on their work.

"While the opportunity to understand and prevent disease and its complications has never been greater, the challenge for promoting effective, efficient use of increasingly diverse and sophisticated treatments has also never been greater," he said. "Expanding our knowledge of the economic impact of medical and health research will help overcome the challenges on the path to better health that we all know lies ahead."

Citing the importance of the Garfield Award in encouraging further study in this area, Mary Woolley, Research!America's president, said, "We need much more work like that of Dr. Philipson and Dr. Jena to show how important health-related research is for our nation's economy as well as our length and quality of life."

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