Hot Topics: Marketing Restrictions Change Prescribing Patterns

Jackie Werner Ethics, Hot Topics in Research

Association Between Academic Medical Center Pharmaceutical Detailing Policies and Physician Prescribing

Larkin I, Ang D, Steinhart J, Chao M, Patterson M, Sah S, Wu T, Schoenbaum M, Hutchins D, Brennan T, Loewenstein G. Association Between Academic Medical Center Pharmaceutical Detailing Policies and Physician Prescribing. JAMA. 2017;317(17):1785-1795. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.4039

Importance  In an effort to regulate physician conflicts of interest, some US academic medical centers (AMCs) enacted policies restricting pharmaceutical representative sales visits to physicians (known as detailing) between 2006 and 2012. Little is known about the effect of these policies on physician prescribing.

Objective  To analyze the association between detailing policies enacted at AMCs and physician prescribing of actively detailed and not detailed drugs.

Design, Setting, and Participants  The study used a difference-in-differences multivariable regression analysis to compare changes in prescribing by physicians before and after implementation of detailing policies at AMCs in 5 states (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York) that made up the intervention group with changes in prescribing by a matched control group of similar physicians not subject to a detailing policy.

Exposures  Academic medical center implementation of policies regulating pharmaceutical salesperson visits to attending physicians.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The monthly within-drug class market share of prescriptions written by an individual physician for detailed and nondetailed drugs in 8 drug classes (lipid-lowering drugs, gastroesophageal reflux disease drugs, diabetes drugs, antihypertensive drugs, hypnotic drugs approved for the treatment of insomnia [sleep aids], attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drugs, antidepressant drugs, and antipsychotic drugs) comparing the 10- to 36-month period before implementation of the detailing policies with the 12- to 36-month period after implementation, depending on data availability.

Results  The analysis included 16 121 483 prescriptions written between January 2006 and June 2012 by 2126 attending physicians at the 19 intervention group AMCs and by 24 593 matched control group physicians. The sample mean market share at the physician-drug-month level for detailed and nondetailed drugs prior to enactment of policies was 19.3% and 14.2%, respectively. Exposure to an AMC detailing policy was associated with a decrease in the market share of detailed drugs of 1.67 percentage points (95% CI, −2.18 to −1.18 percentage points; P < .001) and an increase in the market share of nondetailed drugs of 0.84 percentage points (95% CI, 0.54 to 1.14 percentage points; P < .001). Associations were statistically significant for 6 of 8 study drug classes for detailed drugs (lipid-lowering drugs, gastroesophageal reflux disease drugs, antihypertensive drugs, sleep aids, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drugs, and antidepressant drugs) and for 9 of the 19 AMCs that implemented policies. Eleven of the 19 AMCs regulated salesperson gifts to physicians, restricted salesperson access to facilities, and incorporated explicit enforcement mechanisms. For 8 of these 11 AMCs, there was a significant change in prescribing. In contrast, there was a significant change at only 1 of 8 AMCs that did not enact policies in all 3 areas.

Conclusions and Relevance  Implementation of policies at AMCs that restricted pharmaceutical detailing between 2006 and 2012 was associated with modest but significant reductions in prescribing of detailed drugs across 6 of 8 major drug classes; however, changes were not seen in all of the AMCs that enacted policies.