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CEP discussion paper
Patents and the Global Diffusion of New Drugs
Iain Cockburn, Jean O. Lanjouw and Mark Schankerman
September 2014
Paper No' CEPDP1298:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: O31; O33; O34; O38; I15; I18; K19; L65

Tags: patents; pharmaceuticals; diffusion; drug launches; price regulation

This paper studies how patent rights and price regulation affect how fast new drugs are launched in different countries, using newly constructed data on launches of 642 new drugs in 76 countries for the period 1983-2002, and information on the duration and content of patent and price control regimes. Price regulation strongly delays launch, while longer and more extensive patent protection accelerates it. Health policy institutions, and economic and demographic factors that make markets more profitable, also speed up diffusion. The effects are robust to using instruments to control for endogeneity of policy regimes. The results point to an important role for patents and other policy choices in driving the diffusion of new innovations.

This project was initiated by Jean (Jenny) Lanjouw. Tragically, Jenny died in late 2005, but had asked us to complete the project. This took much longer than expected because it involved complete reconstruction of the data set and empirical work. It is essentially a new paper in its current form, but it remains an important part of Jenny’s legacy and a topic to which she devoted much of her intellectual and policy efforts. We hope she would be satisfied with our work which, for us, was a labor of love.

Patents and the Global Diffusion of New Drugs, Iain M. Cockburn, Jean O. Lanjouw and Mark Schankerman, American Economic Association, Vol 106, No.1, January 2016