Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI) has encouraged physicians to use "chronic medication prescriptions" for patients with stable chronic diseases since 1995. Patients are allowed to refill such prescriptions at community pharmacies for a maximum of three months' supply of medications without revisiting the doctor. In 2006, NHI initiated strategies targeting the public, doctors, and healthcare facilities to enhance the overall rate of chronic medication prescriptions, aiming to achieve 30% by 2010. We examined prescribing and dispensing of oral antidiabetic drugs from 2001 to 2010, before and after the start of the promotion strategies for chronic medication prescriptions in 2006.
Using outpatient care data from the NHI database and the interrupted time series design, we analyzed changes in rate of chronic medication prescriptions, share of prescriptions filled at community pharmacies, and share of reimbursed expenditures accounted by community pharmacies.
During 2001-2010, the rate of chronic medication prescriptions for diabetes increased steadily by about 3% per year (from 3.5% to 26.2%). Three years after the promotion strategies, there was a non-significant reduction of 8.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: -17.35%, 0.05%) in the rate of chronic medication prescriptions but increases in prescription refills at community pharmacies and associated reimbursed expenditures: 12.8% (95% C.I.:1.66%, 23.98%) and 15.8% (95% C.I.: -1.35%, 33.02%) respectively.
While rate of chronic medication prescriptions was not significantly affected by the 2006 promotion strategy, shares of prescriptions refilled at community pharmacies and associated expenditures increased slightly but significantly.