Have newer cardiovascular drugs reduced hospitalization? Evidence from longitudinal country-level data on 20 OECD countries, 1995–2003


  • Frank R. Lichtenberg

    Corresponding author
    1. Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, New York, USA
    2. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, USA
    • Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, 614 Uris Hall, 3022 Broadway, New York, NY, USA
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This study examines the effect of changes in the vintage distribution of cardiovascular system drugs on hospitalization and mortality due to cardiovascular disease using longitudinal country-level data. The vintage of a drug is the first year in which it was marketed anywhere in the world. We use annual data on the utilization of over 1100 cardiovascular drugs (active ingredients) in 20 OECD countries during the period 1995–2003.

Countries with larger increases in the share of cardiovascular drug doses that contained post-1995 ingredients had smaller increases in the cardiovascular disease hospital discharge rate, controlling for the quantity of cardiovascular medications consumed per person, the use of other medical innovations (computed tomography scanners and magnetic resonance imaging units), potential risk factors (average consumption of calories, tobacco, and alcohol), and demographic variables (population size and age structure, income, and educational attainment). The estimates also indicate that the use of newer cardiovascular drugs has reduced the average length of stay and the age-adjusted cardiovascular mortality rate, but not the number of potential years of life lost due to cardiovascular disease before age 70 per 100 000 population.

The estimates indicate that if drug vintage had not increased during 1995–2004, hospitalization and mortality would have been higher in 2004. We estimate that per capita expenditure on cardiovascular hospital stays would have been 70% ($89) higher in 2004 had drug vintage not increased during 1995–2004. Per capita expenditure on cardiovascular drugs would have been lower in 2004 had drug vintage not increased during 1995–2004. However, our estimate of the increase in expenditure on cardiovascular hospital stays is about 3.7 times as large as our estimate of the reduction in per capita expenditure for cardiovascular drugs that would have occurred ($24). Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.