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Direct-to-consumer information (DTCI) campaign is a new medium to inform and empower patients in their decision-making without directly promoting specific drugs. However, little is known about the impact of DTCI campaigns, expanding rapidly in developed countries, on changes in prescription patterns. We sought to determine whether a DTCI campaign on overactive bladder increases the prescription rate for overactive bladder treatment drugs.
We performed a 3-year retrospective cohort study of 1332 participants who were diagnosed overactive bladder but not prescribed treatment drugs prior to the examined DTCI campaign (exposure), using the health insurance claims dataset of the Japan Medical Data Center (November 19, 2010 to November 18, 2013). The DTCI campaign for overactive bladder included television, Internet, and print advertising (November 19, 2011 to December 22, 2011). We divided the study period into Pre-Campaign Year (2010–2011), Year 1 (2011–2012), and Year 2 (2012–2013). Each year began on November 19 and included Period 1 (weeks 1–5) through Period 10 (weeks 46–50). The main outcome was first-time prescription of the treatment drug for each patient, measured by 5-week periods. Using Period 10 in the Pre-Campaign Year as the referent period, we applied the Cox proportional hazard model for each period. Additionally, we performed the interrupted time series analysis (ITSA) for the first-time prescription rate per 5-week period.
Following the DTCI campaign, patients were about seven times more likely to receive a first prescription of a treatment drug during Period 4 in Year 1 (hazard ratio 7.09; 95% CI, 2.11–23.8; p-value<.01) compared with the reference period. Similar increases were also observed for subsequent Periods 5 and 6 in Year 1. The ITSA confirmed the DTCI campaign impact on the level of prescription rate (one-time increase in the regression-intercept) that increased by 1128.1 [per standardized 100,000 persons] (p < .05) during Period 4 in Year 1.
The examined DTCI campaign appeared to increase the prescription rate among patients with overactive bladder for 15 weeks with a 15-week delay. Clinical outcomes of the patients with targeted diseases need to be monitored after DTCI campaigns by a future study.