IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising on Pharmaceutical Prices and Demand


  • Dhaval Dave

    () (Bentley University & National Bureau of Economic Research, 175 Forest Street, AAC 195, Waltham, MA 02452, USA; corresponding author)

  • Henry Saffer

    () (National Bureau of Economic Research, 365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5318, New York, NY 10016 USA;)


Prescription drug expenditures are the fastest growing component of health care spending, rising threefold over the 1995–2007 period. Coinciding with this growth has been a surge in direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA), made feasible by the Food and Drug Administrations's (FDA's) clarification of rules governing broadcast advertising in 1997 and 1999. We exploit this natural experiment to investigate the separate effects of broadcast and non-broadcast DTCA on price and demand utilizing an extended monthly time series for all advertised and non-advertised drugs in four therapeutic classes spanning 1994 through 2005, a period that enveloped the shifts in FDA guidelines and the consequent DTCA expansion. Controlling for physician-directed promotion, fixed-effects models indicate broadcast DTCA positively impacts own-sales and price (elasticities of 0.10 and 0.05), while non-broadcast DTCA has a relatively smaller impact. Expansions in broadcast DTCA account for 19% of the overall growth in drug expenditures, two-thirds of this impact being driven by higher demand and the remainder due to higher prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhaval Dave & Henry Saffer, 2012. "Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising on Pharmaceutical Prices and Demand," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 97-126, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:79:1:y:2012:p:97-126
    DOI: 10.4284/0038-4038-79.1.97

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Chesnes, Matthew & Jin, Ginger Zhe, 2019. "Direct-to-consumer advertising and online search," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-22.
    2. Matthew Chesnes & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2016. "Direct-to-Consumer Advertising and Online Search," NBER Working Papers 22582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Lakdawalla, Darius & Sood, Neeraj & Gu, Qian, 2013. "Pharmaceutical advertising and Medicare Part D," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1356-1367.
    5. Gregory G. Lubiani & Albert A. Okunade & Weiwei Chen, 2018. "Income Elasticity Decomposition Models and Determinants of U.S. Pharmaceutical Expenditures," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 46(4), pages 389-403, December.
    6. Castanheira, Micael & Ornaghi, Carmine & Siotis, Georges, 2019. "The unexpected consequences of generic entry," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    7. Dhaval M. Dave, 2013. "Effects of Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Review and Assessment," NBER Working Papers 18830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Brian Salter & Yinhua Zhou & Saheli Datta, 2017. "Governing new global health-care markets: the case of stem cell treatments," New Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 76-91, January.
    9. Anusua Datta & Dhaval Dave, 2017. "Effects of Physician‐directed Pharmaceutical Promotion on Prescription Behaviors: Longitudinal Evidence," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 450-468, April.
    10. Robert Nathenson & Michael R. Richards, 2018. "Do coverage mandates affect direct-to-consumer advertising for pharmaceuticals? Evidence from parity laws," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 321-336, September.
    11. Castanheira, Micael & de Frutos, Maria-Angeles & Ornaghi, Carmine & Siotis, Georges, 2017. "The Unexpected Consequences of Asymmetric Competition. An Application to Big Pharma," CEPR Discussion Papers 11813, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Abby Alpert & Darius Lakdawalla & Neeraj Sood, 2015. "Prescription Drug Advertising and Drug Utilization: The Role of Medicare Part D," NBER Working Papers 21714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Eisenberg, Matthew D. & Avery, Rosemary J. & Cantor, Jonathan H., 2017. "Vitamin panacea: Is advertising fueling demand for products with uncertain scientific benefit?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 30-44.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • M3 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising


    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:sej:ancoec:v:79:1:y:2012:p:97-126. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Laura Razzolini) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Laura Razzolini to update the entry or send us the correct email address. General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.