Although productivity losses resulting from poor health create significant drag on the US economy, increases to labor productivity are not traditionally measured when evaluating the costs and benefits of new health technologies. A new study systematically analyzes the relationship between new drug treatments and labor productivity across several disease groups. Alice Chen and Dana Goldman examined more than 5000 clinical trials in a 15-year period, finding only 115 (2 percent) evaluated treatment effects on labor productivity. Of the studies with data, they found the largest gains were among infectious diseases (average 42.6 percent gain) and skin diseases (average 82.4 percent gain). Over time, new treatments generated a 30 percent increase in work productivity on average, and subsequent innovations maintained this level of improvement. The authors note that labor sector benefits should be taken into account when assessing the costs and benefits of drug innovation.
Full study available at Value in Health.
Citation: Chen, A. J., & Goldman, D. P. (2018). Productivity Benefits of Medical Care: Evidence from US-Based Randomized Clinical Trials. Value in Health.