Background: A new incentive program, “Premium Rewards for the Promotion of Innovative Drug Discovery and Resolution of Off-Label Use, etc,” was introduced in Japan in 2010 and subsequently applied in 2010, 2012, and 2014. In our previous study, we reported statistical evidence regarding the attributes of drugs for which these premium rewards were used. We found that orphan drugs and drugs in certain therapeutic areas, including neuroscience, oncology, and immunology, were likely to receive rewards. However, that investigation was not conducted to clarify how the rewards system affects pharmaceutical sales or whether drugs that received rewards led to more profits for pharmaceutical companies. Methods: The data set for this study was a list of the 500 top-selling pharmaceuticals in Japan from 2010 to 2014, which was obtained from the IMS Japan Pharmaceutical Market database. To clarify the effect of the rewards system on different therapeutic areas, total sales and quantity sold were compared between drugs that received rewards and those that did not. Results: The rewards system positively affected drug sales in specific therapeutic areas, including those with Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classifications neuroscience (N) and oncology (L), as well as the quantity sold of neuroscience-related drugs. Conclusion: Our study suggests that this system has been working according to its original aim of promoting the development of innovative drugs in Japan.
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