Does Patient Demand Contribute to the Overuse of Prescription Drugs?
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
In an experiment in Mali, we tested whether patients pressure
providers to prescribe unnecessary medical treatment. We varied patients' information about a discount for antimalarial tablets
and measure demand for both tablets and costlier antimalarial
injections. We find evidence of patient-driven demand: informing patients about the discount, instead of letting providers decide
to share this information, increased discount use by 35 percent
and overall malaria treatment by 10 percent. These marginal patients rarely had malaria, worsening the illness-treatment match.
Providers did not use the information advantage to sell injections— their use fell in both information conditions.
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