IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Extracting Low-Cost Signals of Perceived Quality Control in Community Pharmacies: A Simulated Client Study of Contraceptive Dispensing in Bogotá


  • Tatiana Andia

    (Universidad de los Andes)

  • César Mantilla

    (Universidad del Rosario)

  • Álvaro Morales

    (Ministerio de la Salud y la Protección Social)

  • Santiago Ortiz

    (Universidad del Rosario)

  • Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes

    (Universidad del Rosario)


We determine whether community pharmacies in Bogotá produce differential quality signals, and if they are related to an objective quality measure: the compliance with prescription rules. In this quantitative descriptive study, we use the simulated client methodology (N=298) to assess whether Bogota’s community pharmacies comply with prescription rules related to contraceptive medications. We find that one per cent of the staff at the pharmacy asked for a prescription when the pills were requested. Five per cent of the staff asked additional questions that signal knowledge or interest in the correct delivery of pills. We do not find differences by socio-economic level or type of pharmacy ownership (i.e., large firm versus independent) regarding the request of prescriptions or further questions about the pills. Concerning the aesthetic signals of quality, independent pharmacies were less likely to display a diploma of their chemist, and the likelihood that their staff wore white coats was also lower. We conclude that Bogota’s community pharmacies differentiation is based on simple signals associated with a professional image, but not with actual procedures that guarantee the safety of consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Tatiana Andia & César Mantilla & Álvaro Morales & Santiago Ortiz & Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes, 2022. "Extracting Low-Cost Signals of Perceived Quality Control in Community Pharmacies: A Simulated Client Study of Contraceptive Dispensing in Bogotá," Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia, Departamento de Economía, issue 96, pages 9-30, January-J.
  • Handle: RePEc:lde:journl:y:2022:i:96:p:9-30
    DOI: 10.17533/udea.le.n96a344243

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paula Zamora & César Mantilla & Mariana Blanco, 2021. "Price discrimination in informal labor markets in Bogotá: an audit experiment during the 2018 FIFA World Cup," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 55(1), pages 1-24, December.
    2. repec:iab:iabjlr:v:55:i::p:art.6 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ortiz, Santiago & Castelblanco, Geraldine & Mantilla, Cesar, 2020. "Perishability, dynamic pricing and price discrimination: evidence from flower markets in Bogotá," SocArXiv pv5kz, Center for Open Science.

    More about this item


    pharmacies; pharmaceuticals; drugs; simulated client; contraceptive pills.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lde:journl:y:2022:i:96:p:9-30. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Carlos Andrés Vasco Correa (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.