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Do new treatments for illnesses make us more careless about our health?


We examine the effect of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of drug treatment on an important health habit, physical exercise. By learning the existence of a new drug treatment via DTCA, rational consumers may become careless about maintaining healthy lifestyles. Using the National Health Insurance Survey (NHIS) and MSA-level DTCA data, we find that the DTCA related to four chronic conditions — diabetes, high cholesterol, over weight, and hypertension — reduce the likelihood of engaging in moderate exercise. This suggests the possibility that DTCA does not only affect pharmaceutical demand in the short-run, but also have long-run impacts on people’s health by affecting their daily routines.

Source: “Drug Advertising and Health Habit” from NBER Working Paper No. 11770, Issued in November 2005

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