Price Subsidies, Diagnostic Tests, and Targeting of Malaria Treatment: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial
Both under- and over-treatment of communicable diseases are public bads. But efforts to decrease one run the risk of increasing the other. Using rich experimental data on household treatment-seeking behavior in Kenya, we study the implications of this tradeoff for subsidizing life-saving antimalarials sold over-the-counter at retail drug outlets. We show that a very high subsidy (such as the one under consideration by the international community) dramatically increases access, but nearly half of subsidized pills go to patients without malaria. We study two ways to better target subsidized drugs: reducing the subsidy level and introducing rapid malaria tests over-the-counter.
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This paper was revised on February 27, 2013