REVISION: Promoting Wellness or Waste? Evidence from Antidepressant Advertising
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs is controversial. Even if drugs are efficacious, advertising may drive people to be prescribed for whom treatment will be ineffective. Leveraging plausibly exogenous variation in advertising driven by the borders of television markets, this paper provides the first quasi-experimental measurement of the effect of DTCA on ex-post well-being. In particular, antidepressant advertising decreases work absenteeism, a primary outcome associated with depression. The wage benefit of a 10% increase in advertising is about $770 million. This labor supply effect co-occurs at the individual level with an incremental $32 million in new initiations of antidepressant treatment. Keywords: Advertising, Selection, Pharmaceuticals, Labor Supply.
New: Generalizable and Robust TV Ad Effects
Much of the empirical literature exploring the economics of advertising may not be generalizable because it uses a case-study model of research, finding a particular effect in a single category and exploring the implications of that effect only in that category. Publication bias may further distort our understanding of the distribution of realized advertising effects if it discourages researchers from pursuing projects where a null effect may exist. Additionally, empirical identification in many studies of advertising can suffer due to a lack of exogenous variation. In this paper, we study the effects of TV advertising across a broad range of brands and categories, which allows us to characterize the full distribution of advertising elasticities. We also evaluate the sensitivity of our results to different identifying assumptions that are frequently employed in the literature. Our distributional analysis provides insights into i) whether or not effects found in the literature are ...
REVISION: Advertising in Health Insurance Markets
The effects of television advertising in the market for health insurance are of distinct interest to both firms and regulators. Regulators are concerned about firms potentially using ads to "cream skim," or attract an advantageous risk pool, as well as the potential for firms to use misinformation to take advantage of the elderly. Firms are interested in using advertising to acquire potentially highly profitable seniors. Meanwhile, health insurance is a useful setting to study the mechanisms through which advertising could work. Using the discontinuity in advertising exposure created by the borders of television markets, this study estimates the effects of advertising on consumer choice in health insurance. Television advertising has a small effect on brand enrollments, making advertising a relatively expensive means of acquiring customers. Heterogeneous effects point to advertising being more effective in less healthy counties, which runs opposite to the concern of cream skimming. ...
REVISION: Informational Shocks, Off-Label Prescribing and the Effects of Physician Detailing
The relationship between pharmaceutical detailing and prescriptions for non FDA-approved (off-label) use has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny, with more than $12 billion in regulatory settlements for off-label promotion since 2004. Using the case of AstraZeneca's anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel, I study the extent to which off-label prescriptions are caused by detailing. Using a physician panel that connects detailing exposure to medical charts, I exploit within-physician variation to identify detailing effects. I find the effect of detailing on off-label prescriptions is small in both absolute and relative terms. Detailing on net tilts the prescribing distribution toward on-label.
REVISION: Positive Spillovers and Free Riding in Advertising of Prescription Pharmaceuticals: The Case of Antidepressants
Exploiting the discontinuity in advertising along the borders of television markets, I estimate that television advertising of prescription antidepressants exhibits significant positive spillovers on rivals' demand. I apply this identification in a demand model, where estimated parameters indicate significant and persistent spillovers driven by market expansion. Using the demand estimates to calibrate a stylized supply model, I explore the consequences of the positive spillovers on firm advertising choice. Compared with a competitive benchmark in which firms optimally free ride, simulations suggest a category-wide advertising cooperative would produce a significant increase in total advertising.
REVISION: Estimating the Cost of Strategic Entry Delay in Pharmaceuticals: The Case of Ambien CR
With the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, the FDA included an unchallengeable exclusivity period for newly approved drugs, independent of patents. This potentially generates an incentive for firms to strategically delay the introduction of new versions (reformulations) of drugs until just before patent expiration of the original drug. This way the reformulated drug competes mainly with newly introduced generics of the original drug. If instead, the reformulated drug was to be introduced well before the original drug’s patent expires, the reformulated drug would compete only with the original drug. While the pattern of strategic delay is well documented in the literature, its effects on consumers and firms are not. Reformulations may increase utility through improved efficacy and through fewer doses per day or a more even molecule decay rate. However, as suggested in the press and literature, it is also possible that the adoption of reformulated products is mostly the result of advertising ...