Objectives: To control increasing pharmaceutical expenditures, Taiwan's National Health Insurance has implemented a series of drug reimbursement price reductions since 2000. This study examined changes in use and expenditures of oral antidiabetic medications following the price regulation in November 2006.
Methods: We obtained claims data between January 2006 and August 2007 from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database. We categorized oral antidiabetic products as affected by the reimbursement reduction ("targeted") or not ("non-targeted"), by level of relative price reduction, and by manufacturer type (international vs. local manufacturers). We used an interrupted time series design and segmented regression models to estimate changes in monthly per capita prescribing rate, volume, and insurance reimbursement expenditures following the policy.
Results: The majority (129/178; 72.5%) of oral antidiabetic products were targeted by this round of price reductions. There was a relative reduction of 9.5% [95%CI: -12.68, -6.32] in total expenditures at ten months post-policy compared to expected rates. For targeted products, there were 2.04% [95%CI: -4.15, 0.07] and 13.26% [95%CI: -16.64, -9.87] relative reductions in prescribing rate and expenditures, respectively, at ten months post-policy. Non-targeted products increased significantly (22% [95%CI: 10.49, 33.51] and 22.85% [95%CI: 11.69, 34.01] relative increases in prescribing rate and expenditures respectively). Larger reimbursement cuts led to greater reductions in prescribing rate, volume, and insurance reimbursement expenditures of targeted products. Prescribing rates of both targeted and non-targeted products by international manufacturers declined after the policy while rates of prescribing non-targeted products by local manufacturers increased.
Conclusions: While total government expenditures for oral antidiabetic medications were contained by the policy, our results indicate that prescribing shifted at the margin from targeted to non-targeted products and from international to local products. Further research is warranted to understand how changes in medication use due to price regulation policies affect medication adherence and patient health outcomes.
Keywords: Drug reimbursement reduction; Interrupted time series; Oral hypoglycemic medications.
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