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Direct to consumer advertising in pharmaceutical markets


  • Brekke, Kurt R.
  • Kuhn, Michael


We study effects of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) in the prescription drug market. There are two pharmaceutical firms providing horizontally differentiated (branded) drugs. Patients differ in their susceptibility to the drugs. If DTCA is allowed, this can be employed to induce (additional) patient visits. Physicians perfectly observe the patients' type (of illness), but rely on information to prescribe the correct drug. Drug information is conveyed by marketing (detailing), creating a captive and a selective segment of physicians. First, we show that detailing, DTCA and price (if not regulated) are complementary strategies for the firms. Thus, allowing DTCA induces more detailing and higher prices. Second, firms benefit from DTCA if detailing competition is not too fierce, which is true if investing in detailing is sufficiently costly. Otherwise, firms are better off with a ban on DTCA. Finally, DTCA tends to lower welfare if insurance is generous (low copayments) and/or price regulation is lenient. The desirability of DTCA also depends on whether or not the regulator is concerned with firms' profit.
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  • Brekke, Kurt R. & Kuhn, Michael, 2006. "Direct to consumer advertising in pharmaceutical markets," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 102-130, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:25:y:2006:i:1:p:102-130

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    Cited by:

    1. de Frutos, Maria-Angeles & Ornaghi, Carmine & Siotis, Georges, 2013. "Competition in the pharmaceutical industry: How do quality differences shape advertising strategies?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 268-285.
    2. Dhaval M. Dave, 2013. "Effects of Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Review and Assessment," NBER Working Papers 18830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Betty Chaar & Johnson Lee, 2012. "Role of Socioeconomic Status on Consumers’ Attitudes Towards DTCA of Prescription Medicines in Australia," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 105(4), pages 447-460, February.
    4. Bardey, D. & Bommier, A. & Jullien, B., 2010. "Retail price regulation and innovation: Reference pricing in the pharmaceutical industry," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 303-316, March.
    5. Talia Bar & Dean R. Lillard, 2014. "Direct to Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceutical Drugs: Information and Persuasion," NBER Working Papers 19794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Matear, Margaret & Dacin, Peter A., 2010. "Marketing and societal welfare: A multiple stakeholder approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(11), pages 1173-1178, November.
    7. Martin Gonzalez Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2004. "Sustaining Social Security," Working Papers 72, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jun 2004.
    8. Matthew Ryan & Rhema Vaithianathan, 2015. "The Regulation of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals in a Managed Care Setting," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(6), pages 986-1021, December.
    9. Siciliani, Luigi & Rune Straume, Odd & Cellini, Roberto, 2013. "Quality competition with motivated providers and sluggish demand," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 2041-2061.
    10. W. David Bradford & Andrew N. Kleit, 2012. "Direct to Consumer Advertising for Pharmaceuticals: Research Amid the Controversy," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 31 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Hosken, Daniel & Wendling, Brett, 2013. "Informing the uninformed: How drug advertising affects check-up visits," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 181-194.
    12. Brekke, Kurt R. & Cellini, Roberto & Siciliani, Luigi & Straume, Odd Rune, 2010. "Competition and quality in health care markets: A differential-game approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 508-523, July.
    13. Jayawardhana, Jayani, 2013. "Direct-to-consumer advertising and consumer welfare," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 164-180.
    14. Konigbauer, Ingrid, 2007. "Advertising and generic market entry," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 286-305, March.
    15. Dahm, Matthias & González, Paula & Porteiro, Nicolás, 2009. "Trials, tricks and transparency: How disclosure rules affect clinical knowledge," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1141-1153, December.
    16. Kurt R. Brekke & Roberto Cellini & Luigi Siciliani & Odd Rune Straume, 2008. "Competition and quality in regulated markets: a differential-game approach," Discussion Papers 08/05, Department of Economics, University of York.
    17. Königbauer, Ingrid, 2006. "Dealing with Rising Health Care Costs: The Case of Pharmaceuticals," Munich Dissertations in Economics 5640, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    18. Guy David & Sara Markowitz & Seth Richards-Shubik, 2010. "The Effects of Pharmaceutical Marketing and Promotion on Adverse Drug Events and Regulation," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 1-25, November.
    19. Guy David & Sara Markowitz, 2011. "Side Effects of Competition: the Role of Advertising and Promotion in Pharmaceutical Markets," NBER Working Papers 17162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Stefan Stremersch & Vardit Landsman & Sriram Venkataraman, 2013. "The Relationship Between DTCA, Drug Requests, and Prescriptions: Uncovering Variation in Specialty and Space," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(1), pages 89-110, June.
    21. Kurt R. Brekke & Odd Rune Straume, 2008. "Pharmaceutical Patents: Incentives for R&D or Marketing?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2433, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising


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