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Extracting low-cost signals of quality control in community pharmacies: a simulated client study in Bogotá


  • Andia, T
  • Mantilla, C
  • Morales, A
  • Ortiz, S
  • Rodríguez, P


Objectives: Determine whether there is differentiation on service quality accross community pharmacies in Bogota. Methods: We use the simulated client methodology (N=298) to assess whether Bogota’s community pharmacies comply with prescription rules related to contraceptive medications. Simulated clients requested a specific brand of contraceptive pills for their young sister. Results: One per cent of the staff at the pharmacy asked for a prescription when the pills were requested. Five per cent of the staff made additional questions that signal knowledge or interest in correct delivery of pills (e.g., the sister’s age or if the pills were prescribed for acne). We do not find differences by socio-economic level or type of ownership of the pharmacy (large firm versus independent). Independent pharmacies were less likely to portray a diploma of their chemist, and the likelihood that their staff wore white coats was also lower. Conclusions: Bogota’s community pharmacies differentiation on quality appears to be related to simple signals associated with a professional image, but not with actual procedures that guarantee the safety of consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Andia, T & Mantilla, C & Morales, A & Ortiz, S & Rodríguez, P, 2020. "Extracting low-cost signals of quality control in community pharmacies: a simulated client study in Bogotá," Documentos de Trabajo 18126, Universidad del Rosario.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000092:018126

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    pharmacies; pharmaceuticals; drugs; simulatedclient; 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


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