a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: The Economics of Expensive Medicines

Andrew Lo and Jorge Conde

Posted May 30, 2019

The advent of new gene and cell therapies are beginning to approach that holy grail of medicine—that of a possible cure. But they are also more expensive than any medicines ever sold before. In this episode, MIT economist Andrew Lo and a16z General Partner on the Bio Fund Jorge Conde discuss how exactly we place an economic value on a cure; the questions we still need to figure out, like who should pay for what and how; and how we need to start thinking about handling the coming influx of highly priced medicines like these into our healthcare system.

If we think about these payments as a kind of ‘mortgage for a cure,’ what happens when your gene therapy mortgage defaults? How would payment plans like these move between insurance plans? Lo and Conde also discuss the broader context in our healthcare system, the economics and risk of drug discovery and development overall – and finally, how our markets might just function more like biological systems than anything else.