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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Yale: Professor Zack Cooper Receives Carnegie Fellowship to Support Research on Drug Pricing

Health economist Dr. Zack Cooper, associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health and in the Department of Economics, is one of 32 recipients of this year’s Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Each fellow will receive a grant of up to $200,000 for work in the social sciences and humanities. Dr. Cooper’s work focuses on rigorous, data-driven scholarship that can shape healthcare policy and make the U.S. health system more efficient.

The grant will help fund a project examining the pricing of biologic drugs — pharmaceuticals produced from living organisms instead of synthetic chemicals. Biologics are used to treat many diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and several forms of cancer.

Although they only account for about 1 percent of the pharmaceutical drug market, biologics represent about 30 percent of drug spending, dominate the research and development (R&D) pipelines at many major pharmaceutical companies, and will play a vital role in the future of the pharmaceutical industry, said Dr. Cooper, director of health policy at Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies. “How do we increase access to vital medications, and continue to drive innovation?”

Current policy supports the approval and adoption of generic drugs, which has transformed the pricing of traditional, small-molecule pharmaceutical products. However, policy-makers are still working to develop a regulatory environment for bio-similar drugs, which are generic equivalents of biologics, Dr. Cooper explained.

Dr. Cooper’s project aims identify how prices have increased over time and what has caused them to rise, with the goal of providing evidence needed to shape effective public policy for lowering the prices of biologic drugs.