Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


The “My Name is Khan” Effect: Unexpected Celebrity Destigmatization and Pharmaceutical Demand Spillovers


Anindya S. Chakrabarti

(Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad)

Thursday, 13 February 2020 at 3:05 P.M.

Venue: New Seminar Room (Room no. 116, First Floor)

Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

Can unexpected celebrity destigmatization cause demand spillovers in pharmaceutical markets? We provide causal evidence on this question using the econometric context of the release of a highly successful Bollywood movie, My Name is Khan (MNIK) in India whose protagonist Rizwan Khan had Aspergers Syndrome (AS). Using a difference in differences setting, we leverage the timing of release of MNIK in India and examine its impact on drugs consumed in India for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) of which AS is a subset. In our baseline estimations, our treated group were medicines that were atypical antipsychotics and our control group were typical antipsychotics. Controlling for all else in the average region, the growth rate of milligrams sold of atypical antipsychotic molecules on an average increased by atleast 2.8 percent after the release of MNIK compared to growth rate in sales of the average typical antipsychotic molecule in the market. These results are robust across alternative specifications that control for unobserved heterogeneity at the molecule-region or region-time level, also while employing a synthetic control strategy, an alternative control group and sharpened sample windows. Associatedly relative to the control markets, we also observe a variety expansion in products in our treated markets by more than 20 percent, spike in absolute number of physician prescriptions and expansion of product varieties being prescribed in the market by clinicians. Our findings contribute to prior work examining the impact of celebrity engagement and endorsement through educational entertainment and media technologies. We conclude discussing managerial and policy implications of our results.


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