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Incentive Programs for Neglected Diseases

By Pranav Ganapathy   

We propose and evaluate an auction mechanism for the priority review voucher program. The 2007 voucher program rewards drug developers for regulatory approval of novel treatments for neglected tropical diseases. Previous papers have proposed auctioning vouchers for the priority review voucher program but have offered neither a mathematical model nor a framework. We present a mechanism design problem with one pharmaceutical company producing one drug for a neglected tropical disease. The mechanism that maximizes the regulator’s expected surplus is a take-it-or-leave-it offer, with three different offers based on low, intermediate, and high neglected disease burdens. We demonstrate how mechanism design can be applied to settings in which the buyer pays for public access to a product with regulatory speed. Finally, this paper may be useful to policymakers seeking to improve access to voucher drugs through modifications of the program.

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Advisors: Professor David Ridley, Professor Giuseppe Lopomo, Professor Michelle Connolly| JEL Codes: I1, D44, D82

Competition and Innovation: Evidence from Third-Party Reprocessing in the Medical Device Industry

By Varun Prasad   

Healthcare is projected to soon become the industry with the largest amount of spending on research and development in the world. While competition has the potential to catalyze the development of new healthcare technologies and drive down costs, increases in competition have also been thought to hinder innovation as a result of thinner profit margins and reduced incentives. I estimate whether and to what extent competition in the medical device industry promotes innovation. Using Food and Drug Administration data on medical device applications from 1976 to 2019, I examine how original equipment manufacturers respond to the entry of third-party reprocessed devices. I find that, when controlling for year and medical specialty, the introduction of a reprocessed device leads to an almost five-fold increase in new device applications by original manufacturers after both one and two years. These results suggest that an increase in competition within the medical device market has spurred innovation and the development of new technologies.

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Advisors: Professor James Roberts, Professor David Ridley | JEL Codes: L1, D22, L65

Federal and Industrial Funded Research Expenditures and University Technology Transfer licensing

By Trent Chiang

In this paper I relate the numbers of university licenses and options to both university research characteristics and research expenditures from federal government or industrial sources. I apply the polynomial distributed lag model for unbalanced panel data to understand the effects of research expenditures from different sources on licensing activity. We find evidence suggesting both federal and industrial funded research expenditures take 2-3 years from lab to licenses while federal expenditures have higher long-term dynamic effect. Break down licenses by different types of partners, we found that federal expenditures have highest effect with small companies and licenses generating high income. Further research is necessary to analyze the reason for such difference.

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Advisor: David Ridley, Henry Grabowski | JEL Codes: I23, L31, O31, O32, O38 | Tagged: Innovation, Research Expenditures, Science Policy, Technology Transfer

Price Discrimination and Bargaining Power in the Global Vaccine Market

By Linda Li

Since the 1980’s, the market structure of vaccines has become increasingly oligopolistic, and in some cases monopolistic. Alongside these supply trends, we see the emergence and growth of group procurement schemes on the demand side of the market. National government and international organization procure vaccines on behalf of end users. Two such organizations include the UNICEF Supply Division and the PAHO EPI Revolving Fund, for which participation is based on income or geography. Consistent with one of the main goals of group procurement, these groups obtain price discounts on vaccines relative to the private sector. This paper seeks to disentangle two possible explanations for this observed price dispersion using vaccine price data over the years 2002-2012 from UNICEF, PAHO, and the U.S. The two explanations are that of price discrimination and bargaining power. Using proxy variables in a fixed effects model, I find that price discrimination does have a significant impact on price discount. I also find support for a bargaining power effect, however with less certainty, and the existence of supply constraints. These findings have important policy implications for national governments, as well as procurement groups.

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Advisor: David Ridley | JEL Codes: I11, I18, L22 | Tagged: Bargaining Power, Group Procurement, Price Discrimination, Vaaccines


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Jennifer Becker

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly