The impact of information on patient preferences in different delivery patterns: A contingent valuation study of prescription versus OTC drugs
Objectives Our analysis assessed the impact of information on patients' preferences in prescription versus over-the-counter (OTC) delivery systems.Methods A contingent valuation (CV) study was implemented, randomly assigning 534 lay people into the receipt of limited or extended information concerning new influenza drugs. In each information arm, people answered two questions: the first asked about willingness to pay (WTP) for the new prescription drug; the second asked about WTP for the same drug sold OTC.Results We show that WTP is higher for the OTC scenario and that the level of information plays a significant role in the evaluation of the OTC scenario, with more information being associated with an increase in the WTP. In contrast, the level of information provided has no impact on WTP for prescription medicine. Thus, for the kind of drug considered here (i.e. safe, not requiring medical supervision), a switch to OTC status can be expected to be all the more beneficial, as the patient is provided with more information concerning the capability of the drug.Conclusions Our results shed light on one of the most challenging issues that health policy makers are currently faced with, namely the threat of a bird flu pandemic. Drug delivery is a critical component of pandemic influenza preparedness. Furthermore, the congruence of our results with the agency and demand theories provides an important test of the validity of using WTP based on CV methods.
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