On Jan 12th I had a post via the Pharmalot blog that discussed a new academic study that concluded an extension of data exclusivity for 12 years for small molecule drugs would translate into more innovation over a 50 year time span (2060). A 55yr-old at that time would experience a life-extension of 1.7 months on average -- perhaps in part resulting from the incremental 228 drug approvals that could be expected to result from extended exclusivity and more reinvestment.
Now the Patent Doc blog publishes more of this study conducted by Health Affairs to let you examine it in more detail. The rub is that a 55 year old today would need to spend more money out of pocket for drugs (i.e. higher prices with more exclusivity) and would not see any life-span extension for him- or herself. The benefits of such a policy shift would accrue to the future generations. Of course, this is all predicated on certain assumptions. Assumptions that may not hold up - like no unforeseen changes in 'laws, regulations, science and medicine" or changes in drug manufacturer behaviour (like generics chasing their own independent clinical trial data). These limits in interpretation are at least recognized.
It's an interesting study to read. One might consider whether the benefits are great enough to consider a policy change. One might also consider whether a generation today really is willing to pay for a future generation's benefits - benefits that will never be realized by the generation paying for it. This type of altruism perhaps at one time was explicit and now may not be even implicit.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Jan 21st 2011.