The Impact of Moving Pharmaceutical Products from Prescription Only to Over-the-Counter Status on Consumer Exposure to Advertising Yang, Hae-Kyung;
Many pharmaceutical products are available through prescription (Rx) only status. As a result, access to physicians and insurance coverage play a key role in the use of these products, and therefore may affect the population to whom advertising is targeted at. The movement of pharmaceutical products from prescription (Rx) to Over-the-Counter (OTC), or Rx-to-OTC switch changes the cost of acquiring the drug and therefore may change the incentives manufacturers have at targeting particular population segments. This study examines whether Rx-to-OTC switch changes the frequency and the distribution of who is exposed to pharmaceutical advertising. Using an archive of pharmaceutical advertisements and National Consumer Survey, this study examines how individuals with particular demographic characteristics are exposed to pharmaceutical advertisements before and after drugs are moved from Rx to OTC. The results provide evidence that individual's advertising exposure increases after Rx-to-OTC switch. Moreover, the increase in advertising exposure is greater for the low socioeconomic status (SES) consumers which implies they may get more information about the disease, treatment and product after the Rx-to-OTC switch through advertising. If low SES consumers have more exposure to the advertising after products switched to OTC, then FDA policies regulating this switch should recognize the potential role of advertising providing access to health-related information.
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