Efficacy Expectations and Adherence: Evidence of Consumer Biases and Heuristics in Pharmaceutical Marketing

Part of the International Series in Quantitative Marketing book series (ISQM, volume 20)


Pharmaceutical non-adherence is a major issue in both the United States and worldwide. In fact, lack of medication adherence has been called “America’s other drug problem.” It is estimated that globally only about 50 % of patients take their medicines as prescribed, and in the United States the annual cost of poor adherence has been estimated to be approximately $177 billion. In this chapter, we cull from the vast body of work in consumer behavior those theories of consumer processing that are directly relevant to this behavioral problem. Although many factors influence (non)adherence to medicines, we focus our chapter on perceived efficacy since a consumer’s perception of poor product efficacy is one of the primary reasons for non-adherence with a particular medicine and a major cause of brand switching. We identify the biases, heuristics, and lay theories consumers use to infer and judge pharmaceutical product efficacy at two primary stages of the evaluation process: pre-consumption efficacy expectations that drive initial adherence and post-consumption efficacy judgments that drive continued adherence. For example, consumers employ a no-pain-no-gain rule of thumb when judging product efficacy such that products with stronger side effects or bad taste are judged more effective than those without. Given the detrimental consequences of non-adherence in terms of health risks to consumers and losses for the pharmaceutical industry in general, we suggest that efforts to enhance efficacy perceptions are key in creating value for all constituents in the pharmaceutical marketing chain—from manufacturers to end users.


Pharmaceutical Marketer Duration Judgment Availability Heuristic Efficacy Expectation Product Efficacy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baruch College, City University of New YorkNew YorkUS
  2. 2.Terry College of BusinessUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUS
  3. 3.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUS

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