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peer influence affects repeat prescriptions
A study finds that peer influence among physicians can
affect both trial and repeat prescription behavior of a
risky new prescription drug.
The study, Social Contagion in New Product Trial and
Repeat, tracks prescriptions of a new drug over 17 months,
and measures the discussion and patient referral
connections among physicians in New York, Los Angeles, and
San Francisco. The research was conducted by professors
Raghuram Iyengar and Christophe Van den Bulte of the
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
and Jae Young Lee of School of Business, Yonsei
University, Seoul, Korea.
Conventional thinking suggests that repeat prescriptions
are primarily dependent on users' experience. The authors
observe that repeat prescriptions are apparently affected
by physicians' peers. They suggest that peer influence is
not only informational but can also be "normative."
Informational peer influence exists when people observe
the behavior of their peers to learn about the new
product's effectiveness or ease of use. Normative peer
influence exists when people conform to others'
expectations about accepted behavior.
"Whereas informational influence is likely to decrease or
even vanish as people proceed from first-time to repeat
use, normative influence need not decline at all and may
even increase," says Raghuram Iyengar.
Those who are most influential differ between first-time
and repeat use. Physicians, who are central in the social
network and prescribe heavily, influence others in
first-time use but not their repeat use. On the other
hand, nearby colleagues influence repeat prescriptions.
Marketing Science, a
journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the
Management Sciences (INFORMS)