Tell us about your professional journey into this type of work.
I graduated in 2006 with a Ph.D. in health policy and economics from Harvard University’s interfaculty initiative in health policy—and have been a faculty member at the University of Chicago ever since. I have been passionate about public policy and health for a long time and have been fortunate to marry those interests into a research career.
Where did your passion for specialty drugs and particularly cancer come from?
Frankly, happenstance inspired me to focus on specialty drugs, particularly cancer: The University of Chicago’s Comprehensive Cancer Care Center is world renowned for developing new approaches to treating cancer. This has evolved into a research program centered on two questions: What is the value of new specialty drugs? And, what are the intended and unintended consequences of public policies that aim to “bend the cost curve” in specialty care?
Tell us more about your latest research.
I have just completed a series of papers on the pricing of cancer drugs. In both, I try to define the financing, organization and regulatory features of this market that make it unique.
In the first paper, I and Ernst Berndt (MIT, Sloan School of Management) examine the impact of loss of US patent exclusivity (loss of exclusivity or LOE) on the prices and utilization of cancer drugs between 2001 and 2007. We base our analyses on nationally representative data from IMS Health. We observe substantial price erosion after generic entry; average monthly price declines appear to be larger among physician-administered drugs (38 to 46.4 percent) compared to oral drugs (25 to 26 percent). Additionally, we find average prices for drugs produced by branded manufacturers rise and prices for drugs produced by generic manufacturers fall upon LOE. The latter effect is particularly large among oral drugs.
In the second paper, I, David Howard (Emory University) and Peter Bach (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) assess trends in the launch prices for 58 anticancer drugs approved between 1995 and 2013. We find that anticancer drugs’ benefit-and inflation-adjusted launch prices increased by 10 percent annually, or an average of $8,500 per year.