We investigate how the prescribing behavior of physicians reacts to scientific information and recommendations released by public authorities. Taking the example of antidepressant drugs, we use French panel data on exhaustive prescriptions made by a representative sample of general practitioners to more than 110,000 depressed patients between 2000 and 2008. New results revealing an increase in suicidal thinking among children taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were reported in 2004 and prompted the release of new guidelines by public health authorities. We identify the effect of this unexpected warning on physicians’ drug choices while addressing that possibility that patient heterogeneity may be correlated with unobserved physician characteristics. While the warning decreased the average probability of prescribing SSRIs, we find that physicians’ responses to the warning were very heterogeneous and larger if the physician had a higher preference for prescribing SSRIs before the warning.
Physician behavior; prescription; antidepressants; mixed logit;
- I10: General
- D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- C25: Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models • Discrete Regressors • Proportions
TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1114, June 2020