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Background: We evaluated the effectiveness of a policy allowing for the sale of over-the-counter drugs outside of pharmacies by examining its effect on number of monthly outpatient visits for acute upper respiratory infections, dyspepsia, and migraine. Method: We used medical claims data extracted from the Korean National Health Insurance Cohort Database from 2009 to 2013. The Korean National Health Insurance Cohort Database comprises a nationally representative sample of claims - about 2% of the entire population - obtained from the medical record data held by the Korean National Health Insurance Corporation (which has data on the entire nation). The analysis included26,284,706 person-months of 1,042,728 individuals. An interrupted-time series analysis was performed. Outcome measures were monthly outpatient visits for acute upper respiratory infections, dyspepsia, and migraine. To investigate the effect of the policy, we compared the number of monthly visits before and after the policy's implementation in 2012. Result: For acute upper respiratory infections, monthly outpatient visits showed a decreasing trend before the policy (ß = -0.0003);after it, a prompt change and increasing trend in monthly outpatient visits were observed, but these were non-significant. For dyspepsia, the trend was increasing before implementation (ß = -0.0101), but this reversed after implementation(ß = -0.007). For migraine, an increasing trend was observed before the policy (ß = 0.0057). After it, we observed a significant prompt change (ß = -0.0314) but no significant trend. Conclusion: Deregulation of selling over-the-counter medication outside of pharmacies reduced monthly outpatient visits for dyspepsia and migraine symptoms, but not acute upper respiratory infections.
Chun, S. Y., Park, H. K., Han, K. T., Kim, W., Lee, H. J., & Park, E. C. (2017). Deregulation of sale of over-the-counter drugs outside of pharmacies in the Republic of Korea: Interrupted-time-series analysis of outpatient visits before and after the policy. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-017-2434-6