Nudge or Nanny State?

An interesting article in the N.Y. Times “Upshot” section by Austin Frakt argues that federal efforts to nudge people towards healthier behaviors may be doomed to fail. A $100 billion dollar health care package…encourages exercise by treating gym memberships as tax-deductible medical expenses…[a]nd it would permit the use of flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts…

Should we move from patents to prizes?

An interesting article by Charles Silver and David A. Hyman argues that we should do away with patents for pharmaceuticals and move to a prize based system.  They write in Vox: A well-designed prize regime would lower drug prices by eliminating drug monopolies, yet it would also create the necessary incentives for innovation, including incentives to…

Off-label prescribing

How frequently are pharmaceuticals used off label?  Perhaps more than you think.  Although these figures are a bit dated, Tabarrok (2000) details the extent of off-label prescribing in the U.S. as follows: According to a study by the U.S. General Accounting Office, 56 percent of cancer patients have been given non-FDA-approved prescriptions, and 33 percent…