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Effects of Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Review and Assessment

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  • Dhaval M. Dave

Abstract

This review discusses the role of consumer-directed and physician-directed promotion in the pharmaceutical market, based on the classic conceptual framework of whether such promotion is "persuasive" and/or "informative". Implications for public health and welfare partly depend on whether, and to what extent, advertising: 1) raises "selective" or brand-specific demand versus "primary" or industry-wide demand; 2) impacts drug costs; and 3) impacts competition. Empirical evidence from the literature bearing on these effects is surveyed. These studies show that pharmaceutical promotion has both informative and persuasive elements. Consumer advertising is more effective at enlarging the market, educating consumers, inducing physician contact, expanding drug treatment, and promoting adherence among existing users. Physician advertising is primarily persuasive in nature, effectively increasing selective brand demand. Evidence bearing on the effects of promotion on competition and prices is more limited. However, there is no strong evidence that drug promotion deters entry, and there is some suggestive evidence that it may even be mildly pro-competitive. With respect to costs, some studies suggests that consumer advertising may weakly raise the average wholesale price, which is a manufacturer's list price, but there is no strong indication that either consumer- or provider-directed promotion substantially raises retail-level prices. However, this is not to imply that potential promotion-driven substitution from non-advertised to advertised drugs cannot have effects on total drug costs. While most of these effects point to potential welfare improvements as a result of pharmaceutical promotion, there is also evidence that consumer ads may induce overuse and overtreatment in certain cases. Market expansion, overtreatment and shifting brands for non-therapeutic reasons further raise the concern of a sub-optimal patient-drug match at least for some marginal patients. A comprehensive evaluation of the welfare effects of pharmaceutical promotion requires a balanced assessment of these benefits and costs.

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  • Dhaval M. Dave, 2013. "Effects of Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Review and Assessment," NBER Working Papers 18830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18830
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    3. Byl, Jacob P. & Viscusi, W. Kip, 2021. "Experimental study of consumer responses to different sources of information about prescription drugs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 754-771.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Abraham Abebe Asfaw, 2019. "The effect of prescription drug insurance on health behavior: Evidence from Medicare Part D," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(3), pages 403-418, March.
    8. Svetlana Beilfuss & Sebastian Linde, 2021. "Pharmaceutical opioid marketing and physician prescribing behavior," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(12), pages 3159-3185, December.
    9. Nosal, K., 2016. "Physician Group Practices and Technology Diffusion: Evidence from New Antidiabetic Drugs," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 16/22, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • 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

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