Movies, stigma and choice: Evidence from the pharmaceutical industry


Movies, stigma and choice: Evidence from the pharmaceutical industry

Mayank Aggarwal, Anindya S. Chakrabarti, and Chirantan Chatterjee

Journal Articles | Health Economics

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Do movies reduce stigma, increasing healthcare product choices offered by firms? We provide causal evidence on this question in the context of Indian pharmaceutical markets. For unpacking these effects, we use an exogenous shock to the market due to the release of a Bollywood blockbuster movie - My Name is Khan (MNIK) where the protagonist, superstar Shahrukh Khan, suffers from Asperger's Syndrome (AS). Using a difference-in-differences design, we find a positive and statistically significant effect of MNIK (between 14% and 22% increase in variety sold and prescribed) on product differentiation and choices in the market for antipsychotic medicines used to clinically treat AS. Results are consistent using alternative controls, a placebo treatment-based test and with a variety of other robustness checks. Our findings document likely for the first-time, supply side responses to edutainment and suggests potential associated welfare effects in healthcare markets characterized by sticky demand. Implications for global health and public policy given worldwide concerns around a mental wellness epidemic with Covid-19 are discussed.