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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

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