Tomas Philipson

Daniel Levin Professor of Public Policy

Tomas J. Philipson is the Daniel Levin Professor of Public Policy Studies in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy at The University of Chicago. He is an associate member of the Department of Economics and a former senior lecturer at the Law School. His research focuses on health economics, and he teaches Masters and PhD courses in microeconomics and health economics at the University.

Philipson was born and raised in Sweden where he obtained his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Uppsala University. He received his MA and PhD in economics from the Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania. He was a visiting faculty member at Yale University in the academic year 1994-95 and a visiting fellow at the World Bank in the winter of 2003.

Philipson has served in several public sector positions. He served in the second Bush Administration as the senior economic advisor to the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during 2003-04 and subsequently as the senior economic advisor to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2004-05. He served as a senior health care advisor to Senator John McCain during his 2008 campaign for President of the United States. In December of 2010, he was appointed by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives to the Key Indicator Commission created by the recent health care reform.

Philipson is the recipient of numerous international and national research awards. He has twice (in 2000 and 2006) been the recipient of the highest honor of his field: the Kenneth Arrow Award of the International Health Economics Association (for best paper in the field of health economics). In addition, he was awarded the Garfield Award by Research America in 2007 (for best paper in the field of health economics), The Prêmio Haralambos Simeonidisand from the Brazilian Economic Association in 2006 (for best paper in any field), and the Distinguished Economic Research Award from the Milken Institute in 2003 (for best paper in any field of economics). Philipson has been awarded numerous grants and awards from both public and private agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Philipson is a founding editor of the journal Forums for Health Economics & Policy of Berkeley Electronic Press and has been on the editorial board of the journal Health Economics and The European Journal of Health Economics. His research has been published widely in all leading academic journals of economics such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Health Economics, Health Affairs, and Econometrica.

Philipson is a fellow, board member, or associate of a number of other organizations outside the University, including the National Bureau of Economic Research, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute (where he is chairman of Project FDA), the Heartland Institute, the Milken Institute, the RAND Corporation, and the USC Shaeffer Center for Health Economics and Policy. At the University of Chicago, he is affiliated with the John M. Olin Program of Law & Economics, the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, the Northwestern/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research, the Population Research Center, and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). He was a member of the University-wide Council on Research in 2000-02 and is currently a member of the Advisory Committee to the University's Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (UCTech).

Philipson has done executive consulting for both private corporations, including many U.S. Fortune 100 companies, as well as government organizations domestically and internationally. This has included work for the President's Council on Science and Technology, the National Academy of Sciences, and the UK National Health Service. It has also included work for multi-lateral organizations such as the World Bank, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the OECD. He is the co-founder of Precision Heath Economics LLC, on the honorary board of directors of the internet-based consulting firm the Round Table Group, on the board of directors of MedErr Inc, on the board of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, on the council of advisors for the Gerson-Lehrman Group, and a consultant for Compass-Lexecon, Bates White, and Analysis Group.

Philipson’s research is frequently disseminated through the popular press. He is a monthly op-ed contributor for Forbes magazine and frequently appears in numerous popular media outlets such as CNN, CBS, FOX News, Bloomberg TV, National Public Radio, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The Economist, Washington Post, Investor's Business Daily, and USA Today. He is a frequent keynote speaker at many domestic-and international health care events and conferences. Philipson has been selected for inclusion in The International Who's Who in The World.

Philipson is a dual citizen of the United States and Sweden and before leaving Sweden served in its army and played volleyball at the national team level.


Video/Audio Archive

Philipson gives keynote debate at Tiger Forums in Tolouse, France, June 2014. (video)

Philipson is featured panelist in Bio International Convention's "worldVIEW SuperSession" addressing innovative alliances in Pharma, April 24, 2014.

"Health Care Costs and Universal Coverage," coverage of 'Best of Both Worlds' paper outlining alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, C-SPAN, August 6, 2013. (video)

"Tomas Philipson on cost and effectiveness of cancer care in Europe vs. U.S.," BIO Century Interview, June 2012 (video)

"Weight of the World: Strategies to Fight the Global Obesity Epidemic," Milken Institute 2012 Global Conference, April 30, 2012 (video)

"Solving the Health Care Quadrilemma: Technological Change, Insurance, Outcomes, and Costs", AEI, September 9, 2011 (video)

Podcast by Paul Howard on "Blue Pill or Red Pill: The Limits of Comparative Effectiveness Research", July 1, 2011 (part I, part II)

"Regulation and Pharmaceuticals" talk at the Hillsdale College Free Market Forum, September 30, 2010 (video)

Fox News, Philipson's report "Cost of Caution" produced for Manhattan Institute, June 21, 2010 (video)

Comparative Effectiveness Research, American Enterprise Institute, June 23, 2010. (video)

Health Care, Manhattan Institute For Policy Research, June 16, 2010 (audio)

Keynote Speech, InHealth, Washington DC, April 7, 2010. (video)

Keynote Speech at Biogen, March 11, 2010. (audio)

Panelist, Medical Innovation: Turning Molecules Into Miracles, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, February 17, 2010. (video)

Panelist, debate on Obama health care plan, Eight Forty-Eight, WBEZ, September 10, 2009. (audio)

Panelist, debate on Obama health care plan, Chicago Tonight, WTTW Channel 11, August 18, 2009. (video)

Participant, presidential campaign health care debate, Harvard Law School, October 2008. (video)

Presentation, Innovation and Technology Adoption in Health Care Markets, American Enterprise Institute Book Forum, September 22, 2008 (video)

Panelist, Milken Institute 2008 Global Conference
Session: Revolutionizing Health Care and Research in the Developing World
Session: An Unhealthy America: Obesity and the Economic Implications of Chronic Disease

Interview, Bloomberg Radio, "On the Economy with Tom Keene," July 16, 2008 (audio)

Interview, Yale University, April 2008 (audio)

Interview, "The Economics of Obesity," Bloomberg TV, Money & Politics, November 23, 2007 (video)

Presentation, FDA Policy, AHIP, March 7, 2006 (video)

Report on Philipson and Posner, "The Long Run Growth of Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Brooks Jackson, CNN World News, June 14, 2000.

Select Op-Eds & Editorials

By Tomas Philipson

"Scapegoating Shinseki Will Not Solve The Underlying Problem Facing The Veteran Health Administration," Forbes, June 4, 2014.

"An Economic Giant Departs: Gary Becker 1930-2014," Forbes, May 13, 2014.

"Abnormal Returns To Medical Innovation: What It Means To Your Health," Forbes, May 5, 2014.

"'Double Jeopardy' In American Health Insurance," Forbes, April 1, 2014. (co-authored with Dana P. Goldman)

"The Coming Perfect Storm In Medical Innovation: Can FDA Be A Life-Boat?" Forbes, March 3, 2014. (co-authored with Andrew von Eschenbach)

"Don't Be Fooled: Brand Drugs Cut Prices More than Generics," Forbes, February 3, 2014.

"Beyond Economics: How Price Controls Are Killing Millions of Patients," Forbes, January 3, 2014.

"How Much Does Obamacare Help The Poor? Don't Ask The Rich!" Forbes, November 27, 2013.

"Obamacare Or Not, Healthcare Costs Are Set To Soar," Forbes, October 31, 2013.

"Left And Right Give Way Too Much Credit To The Business Cycle," Forbes,
October 2, 2013.

"Capping Drug Prices Scraps The Hippocratic Oath," Forbes, May 23, 2013. (co-authored with George Zanjani)

"FDA Reform Can Lift U.S. Economy,"  Bloomberg News, February 28, 2013. (co-authored with Andrew von Eschenbach)

"Demanding Altruism from Drugmakers Won't Improve Health of Poor" Investors Business Daily, March 19, 2012

"Cutting Medicare spending can improve health" The Daily Caller, October 20, 2011

Response to "A Dangerous Medicare Proposal" Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2011

"A Dangerous Medicare Proposal" Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2011

"Should U.S. Import U.K. Model for Medicare and Medicaid?", October 5, 2010.

"Fat New World," The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2010. (co-authored with Richard Posner)

"Addressing Geographic Variation and Health Care Efficiency," American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, July 2010. (co-authored with Darius Lakdawalla)

"Push for more trials may hurt patients," Washington Examiner, San Francisco Examiner, July 21, 2010. (co-authored with Anup Malani)

"Quantifying High Cost Of Caution May Speed Drug Approval Process," Investors Business Daily, June 14, 2010

"American vs European Solidarity," FOX News, April 24, 2010.

"Critical Diagnosis,", February 3, 2010.

"The Blue Pill or the Red Pill?", January 14, 2010.

"What's wrong with Private Insurance?" Forbes, October 30, 2009.

"Borrow from the HIV battle plan to help win the war on cancer," Investors Business Daily, March 16, 2009.

"Don't surrender innovation in the name of health care reform," Washington Examiner, March 9, 2009.

"FDA and Pre-emption: The Supreme Court Can Improve Patient Access," Washington Times, October 20, 2008.

"Prognosis: AMA-Always A Union. Treatment: Preserve Low-Frills Health Care," Chicago Tribune, July 2000. (co-authored with C. Mulligan)

"Optimism about AIDS is Premature," Wall Street Journal, February 4, 1998. (co-authored with R. Posner)

About Tomas Philipson's Work

"A World Free from Cancer," Scientific American, March 10, 2014.  Philipson contributes to a special cancer supplement to Scientific American.

"The Economics of Randomized Experiments," The New York Times, March 5, 2014.  Op-ed discussing Philipson's view on drug trial compensation. 

"Hard pills to swallow," The Economist, January 4, 2014. Article citing Philipson's view on global drug prices.

"Survey Respondents: Mercenaries or Slaves?"The New York Times, June 27, 2012. Op-ed discussing Philipson's work on Data Markets.

"The Annual Economic Report of The President," March 2013. Philipson's work cited on pages 165 and 166.

"Cancer Care Grand Rounds" (subscription required) Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2012. Article discussing Philipson et al, "Is US cancer care worth it?".

"Obamacare’s ‘one size fits all’ health care guidelines," Washington Times, June 27, 2011

"Poll: Should Sick People Be Paid to Risk Their Lives?", June 7, 2011

"Therapeutic success stifles medical progress," Nature Magazine, May 24, 2011.

"A Good Diet Beats Surgery, Drugs," The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2010.

"Drug Approval Process Slowing As FDA Seeks to Stress Safety," Investors Business Daily, July 14, 2010.

"Comparative effectiveness efforts expanding but still raising concerns," American Medical News, July 12, 2010.

"FDA is slowing down necessary drugs and treatments," Washington Examiner, June 17, 2010.

"End-of-Life Medical Spending Not So Wasteful," Best Life Blog, USNews & World Report, January 20, 2010.

"R.O.I. on Cancer Spending: Better Than We Think?" Freakonomics Blog, New York Times, January 6, 2010. (op-ed by Stephen Dubner reviewing Sun, Philipson, et al "An Economic Evaluation of the War on Cancer")

"What economics can teach us about fighting swine flu," Economix Blog, New York Times, April 29, 2009. (op-ed by Casey Mulligan about Philipson and Posner's book Public Health and Private Choices)

"Faster FDA Cures," Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2006. (review of work by Berndt, Gottschalk, Philipson, and Strobeck "Assessing The Safety and Efficacy of the FDA")

"Why Americans Have to be Fat," Washington Post, January 22, 2006. (article by Michael S. Rosenwald)

"We're Too Fat, And It's Technology's Fault," Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2003. (column by David Wessel reviewing Philipson and Posner (1999) and related research)

"ON THE CONTRARY; Belt-Loosening in the Work Force," New York Times, March 2, 2003.

"Pulling Obesity Data Off The McDonald's Wi-Fi," Forbes, July 10, 2003.

"Employment and Prosperity cause Body Inflation," New York Times, September 26, 2002. (article by Hal Varian reviewing Lakdawalla and Philipson "The Growth in Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination")

"Fat And Happy In Oak Brook And Beijing," Forbes, September 3, 2002.

"Americans Waistlines Have Become The Victims of Economic Progress," New York Times, March 23, 2001. (article by Virginia Postrel reviewing Philipson and Posner, 1999, and Lakdawalla and Philipson, 2001)

"Tales of The Dismal Science," Business, January 5, 1999. (article by Peter Coy reviewing Lakdawalla and Philipson "The Rise on Old-Age Longevity and The Market for Long-Term Care")

"The Economics of Obesity," Investor's Business Daily, June 23, 1999. (article reviewing Philipson and Posner's "The Long Run Growth of Obesity as a Function of Technological Change")

"The Coming Boom in Long Term Care?" Business Week, June 28, 1999. (article by Gene Koretz reviewing Lakdawalla and Philipson "The Rise on Old-Age Longevity and The Market for Long-Term Care")

"The Economics of AIDS," New York Times Book Review, March 6, 1994. (article by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer reviewing Private Choices and Public Health)