New Zealand Cancer Research & Medicines Study by Prof. Frank Lichtenberg

Research by prominent American economist, Professor Frank Lichtenberg, looked at the impact of pharmaceutical innovation on the longevity and hospitalisation of New Zealand cancer patients from 1998 to 2012.

This was the first study to analyse the impact of new cancer medicines on patients and the health system in New Zealand in this way.

Professor Lichtenberg’s research proved New Zealand’s investment in cancer medicines reduces hospital spending, contributes to improved survival rates and decreases premature mortality rates.

This study also confirmed that for every dollar invested in a new cancer medicine, at least one dollar was saved downstream in healthcare systems.
Professor Lichtenberg presented the findings of his research at the Medicines New Zealand Parliamentary Dinner last year.

During his stay he met with a number of leaders, including those from health and commerce sectors.

Research Findings – Executive Summary
Access to new cancer medicines improves survival rates, increases life expectancy and reduces hospital costs in New Zealand1

New medicines have helped people with cancer improve their chance of survival
– Between 1998 and 2010, the 5-year survival rate for all adult cancers
increased by 5.6%
– Between 1998 and 2010, the 5-year survival rate for all childhood cancers
increased by 12.9%
– In the absence of new cancer medicines, the 5-year survival rate for all
adult cancers would not have increased- it might even have decreased

Not all cancers are impacted equally by new medicines
– 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer has increased by 9.2%
– 5-year survival rate for Hodgkin lymphoma has increased by 1.5%
– An increase in 5 year survival rate is strongly related to the number of
new medicines that are available to treat New Zealand patients.

Access to one new medicine makes a significant difference to reduced cancer mortality and reduced hospital stays
– Funding one new medicine for any particular cancer reduces cancer
mortality by 5%
– Funding one new medicine for any particular cancer reduces hospital stays
by 5.6%.

Far fewer New Zealanders are dying early in life
– Premature mortality occurs when people die before age 70
– Cancer medicines approved from 1986-1997 are estimated to have reduced the
number of life-years lost to cancer before age 70 in 2011 by 10,556
– If there had been no new cancer medicines, premature mortality would have
been 29% higher in 2011 alone.

Use of new cancer medicines saves taxpayers money
– If no new medicines were approved from 1991-2002, the number of cancer
related hospitalisations in 2011 would have been 23% higher
– This would have seen increased hospital expenditure of $28 million on
cancer patients
– This potential expenditure was almost the same as the total investment in
all cancer medicines dispensed to cancer patients below age 70 in 2008
– For every dollar invested in a new cancer medicine at least one dollar was
saved downstream in healthcare systems
– New cancer medicines are a cost-effective intervention that increases
patient longevity, decreases annual hospitalisation rates and saves the
New Zealand healthcare system money.

1 Source: Frank R Lichtenberg and Jenni Williams-Spence, the Impact of Pharmaceutical Innovation on the Longevity and Hospitalisation of New Zealand Cancer Patients, 1998-2012, 2016

Prof. Frank Lichtenberg (Colombia University Graduate School of Business, New York)

Brief Biography
Frank Lichtenberg is Courtney C. Brown Professor of Business at the Graduate School of Business. He received a BA with Honours in History from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Lichtenberg’s research has examined how the introduction of new technology arising from research and development affects the productivity of companies, industries and nations. He has performed studies of the impact of pharmaceutical innovation and longevity, the effect of computers on productivity in business and government organisations, and the consequence of takeovers and leveraged buyouts for efficiency and employment. His articles have been published in numerous scholarly journals and in popular press.

Professor Lichtenberg previously taught at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Ecole Polytechnique (France). He has been awarded research fellowships, grants and contracts by a number of organisations including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Fullbright Commission.

To view the full research paper click here –

NZ cancer study 2016-07-28

Pictured with Professor Frank Lichtenberg during his visit to Auckland, is Philip Hope of the Lung Foundation who enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the findings in relation to lung cancer – NZ’s biggest cancer killer.