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1.  A cost-effectiveness analysis of an in-hospital clinical pharmacist service 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000329.
A randomised controlled study performed from 2007 to 2008 showed beneficial effects of a composite clinical pharmacist service as regards a simple health status instrument. The present study aimed to evaluate if the intervention was cost-effective when evaluated in a decision-theoretic model.
A piggyback cost-effectiveness analysis from the healthcare perspective.
Two internal medicine wards at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.
Of 345 patients (61% women; median age: 82 years; 181 control and 164 intervention patients), 240 patients (62% women, 82 years; 124 control and 116 intervention patients) had EuroQol-5 dimensions (EQ-5D) utility scores at baseline and at 6-month follow-up.
Outcome measures
Costs during a 6-month follow-up period in all patients and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) in patients with EQ-5D utility scores. Inpatient and outpatient care was extracted from the VEGA database. Drug costs were extracted from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. A probabilistic analysis was performed to characterise uncertainty in the cost-effectiveness model.
No significant difference in costs between the randomisation groups was found; the mean total costs per individual±SD, intervention costs included, were €10 748±13 799 (intervention patients) and €10 344±14 728 (control patients) (p=0.79). For patients in the cost-effectiveness analysis, the corresponding costs were €10 912±13 999 and €9290±12 885. Intervention patients gained an additional 0.0051 QALYs (unadjusted) and 0.0035 QALYs (adjusted for baseline EQ-5D utility score). These figures result in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of €316 243 per unadjusted QALY and €463 371 per adjusted QALY. The probabilistic uncertainty analysis revealed that, at a willingness-to-pay of €50 000/QALY, the probability that the intervention was cost-effective was approximately 0.2.
The present study reveals that an intervention designed like this one is probably not cost-effective. The study thus illustrates that the complexity of healthcare requires thorough health economics evaluations rather than simplistic interpretation of data.
Article summary
Article focus
Clinical pharmacist services have been shown beneficial for patient health and healthcare costs, although results are inconsistent. In the present article, we present combined data on costs and health outcomes for a composite clinical pharmacist service.
Key messages
Although our composite clinical pharmacist service has previously been shown beneficial as regards a simple health status instrument, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio per QALY was high, more than €460 000 in the base case and more than €100 000 in most sensitivity analyses.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This study is the first one to provide data on costs per QALY for an in-hospital intervention aimed to improve drug treatment. An important limitation may be that the pharmacists acted like external consultants rather than an integrated part in healthcare, and further research on cost-effectiveness of pharmacist services may be called for.
PMCID: PMC3253415  PMID: 22223840
2.  “Psychiatry is not a science like others” - a focus group study on psychotropic prescribing in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:115.
Psychotropic drug prescribing is problematic and knowledge of factors affecting the initiation and maintenance of such prescribing is incomplete. Such knowledge could provide a basis for the design of interventions to change prescribing patterns for psychotropics. The aim of this study was to explore the views of general practitioners (GPs), GP interns, and heads of primary care units on factors affecting the prescribing of psychotropic drugs in primary care.
We performed four focus group discussions in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a total of 21 participants (GPs, GP interns, and heads of primary care units). The focus group discussions were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using manifest content analysis.
Three different themes emerged from the focus group discussions. The first theme Seeking care for symptoms, reflects the participants’ understanding of why patients approach primary care and comprised categories such as knowledge, attitudes, and society and the media. The second theme, Lacking a framework, resources, and treatment alternatives, which reflects the conditions for the physician-patient interaction, comprised categories such as economy and resources, technology, and organizational aspects. The third theme, Restricting or maintaining prescriptions, with the subthemes Individual factors and External influences, reflects the physicians’ internal decision making and comprised categories such as emotions, knowledge, and pharmaceutical industry.
The results of the present study indicate that a variety of factors may affect the prescribing of psychotropic medications in primary care. Many factors were related to characteristics of the patient, the physician or their interaction, rather than the patients’ medical needs per se. The results may be useful for interventions to improve psychotropic prescribing in primary care.
PMCID: PMC3751446  PMID: 23937398
Prescribing; Psychotropic drugs; Primary health care; Focus groups
3.  Drug Treatment in Older People before and after the Transition to a Multi-Dose Drug Dispensing System–A Longitudinal Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67088.
An association has been found between multi-dose drug dispensing (MDD) and use of many drugs. The aim of this study was to investigate the nature of this association, by performing a longitudinal analysis of the drug treatment before and after the transition to MDD.
Inclusion critera in this register-based study were inhabitants in Region Västra Götaland, Sweden, who, at ≥65 years of age and between 1st July 2006 and 30th June 2010, filled their first MDD prescription. For each individual, prescribed drugs were estimated at three month intervals before and after (maximum 3 years, respectively) the first date of filling an MDD prescription (index date).
A total of 30,922 individuals matched the inclusion criteria (mean age: 83.2 years; 59.9% female). There was a temporal association between the transition to MDD and an increased number of drugs: 5.4±3.9 and 7.5±3.8 unique drugs three months before and after the index date, respectively, as well as worse outcomes on several indicators of prescribing quality. When either data before or after the index date were used, a multi-level regression analysis predicted the number of drugs at the index date at 5.76 (95% confidence limits: 5.71; 5.80) and 7.15 (7.10; 7.19), respectively, for an average female individual (83.2 years, 10.8 unique diagnoses, 2.4 healthcare contacts/three months). The predicted change in the number of drugs, from three months before the index date to the index date, was greater when data before this date was used as compared with data after this date: 0.12 (0.09; 0.14) versus 0.02 (−0.01; 0.05).
After the patients entered the MDD system, they had an increased number of drugs, more often potentially harmful drug treatment, and fewer changes in drug treatment. These findings support a causal relationship between such a system and safety concerns as regards prescribing practices.
PMCID: PMC3691131  PMID: 23826197
4.  Impact of information letters on the reporting rate of adverse drug reactions and the quality of the reports: a randomized controlled study 
Spontaneous reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is an important method for pharmacovigilance, but under-reporting and poor quality of reports are major limitations. The aim of this study was to evaluate if repeated one-page ADR information letters affect (i) the reporting rate of ADRs and (ii) the quality of the ADR reports.
All 151 primary healthcare units in the Region Västra Götaland, Sweden, were randomly allocated (1:1) to an intervention (n = 77) or a control group (n = 74). The intervention consisted of one-page ADR information letters administered at three occasions during 2008 to all physicians and nurses in the intervention units. The number of ADR reports received from the 151 units was registered, as was the quality of the reports, which was defined as high if the ADR was to be reported according to Swedish regulations, that is, if the ADR was (i) serious, (ii) unexpected, and/or (iii) related to the use of new drugs and not labelled as common in the Summary of Product Characteristics. A questionnaire was administered to evaluate if the ADR information letter had reached the intended recipient.
Before the intervention, no significant differences in reporting rate or number of high quality reports could be detected between the randomization groups. In 2008, 79 reports were sent from 37 intervention units and 52 reports from 30 control units (mean number of reports per unit ± standard deviation: 1.0 ± 2.5 vs. 0.7 ± 1.2, P = 0.34). The number of high quality reports was higher in intervention units than in control units (37 vs. 15 reports, 0.5 ± 0.9 vs. 0.2 ± 0.6, P = 0.048). According to the returned questionnaires (n = 1,292, response rate 57%), more persons in the intervention than in the control group had received (29% vs. 19%, P < 0.0001) and read (31% vs. 26%, P < 0.0001) an ADR information letter.
This study suggests that repeated ADR information letters to physicians and nurses do not increase the ADR reporting rate, but may increase the number of high quality reports.
PMCID: PMC3182972  PMID: 21899766
5.  Characteristics of primary health care units with focus on drug information from the pharmaceutical industry and adherence to prescribing objectives: a cross-sectional study 
Adherence to prescribing guidelines varies between primary health care units. The aim of the present study was to investigate correlations between characteristics of primary health care units and adherence to prescribing objectives for rational drug use with focus on drug information from the pharmaceutical industry.
A cross-sectional study was performed in all 25 primary health care units in Göteborg, Sweden. A questionnaire on characteristics of practice settings [(i) size of unit, (ii) profession of head, (iii) use of temporary physicians, (iv) drug information from the pharmaceutical industry, (v) producer-independent drug information, and (vi) education on prescribing for newly employed physicians] was sent to the heads of the units. A national sales register for prescribed drugs (Xplain) was used for evaluation of adherence to the six regional prescribing objectives concerning proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), statins and antidepressants.
Twenty-two out of 25 primary health care units responded to the questionnaire (response rate 88%). A physician as head and presence of producer-independent drug information was positively correlated with adherence to the prescribing objectives (median number of prescribing objectives adhered to (25th - 75th percentile): 2.5 (1-3.25) vs 1 (0-2), P = 0.013; 2 (1-3) vs 0, P = 0.043, respectively. Presence of drug information from the pharmaceutical industry and education on prescribing for newly employed physicians was negatively associated with adherence to the prescribing objectives: 1 (0-2) vs 3.5 (2.25-4.75), P = 0.005; 1 (0-2) vs 3 (1.5-4), P = 0.034, respectively.
Several characteristics of the primary health care units correlated with adherence to prescribing objectives for rational drug use. Further research on this topic is needed and would constitute valuable information for health care decision makers.
PMCID: PMC2831842  PMID: 20156362
6.  Use of and attitudes towards the prescribing guidelines booklet in primary health care doctors 
In the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden, prescribing guidelines, drawn up by 24 expert groups and determined by the regional board for drugs, are since 2006 available in the form of an annually published booklet. This study investigates, for the first time, the use of and attitudes towards this publication.
A questionnaire was administered to doctors working in primary health care in the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden. Questions included characteristics of the responding doctor and use of the prescribing guidelines booklet, as well as attitude questions constructed as statements to which the responder should grade his level of agreement from 1 (total disagreement) to 6 (total agreement).
Totally 603 filled-in questionnaires were returned (estimated response rate 60%). The majority of the doctors (n = 571, 97%) responded that they use the prescribing guidelines booklet, and when prescribing a drug for a new diagnosis, a drug from the booklet is chosen in most cases [median (25th – 75th percentile) 80 (75–90)]. However, at renewal of a drug prescription, active change to a drug from the prescribing guidelines booklet occurs less often [median (25th – 75th percentile) 50 (20–70)]. The booklet also includes short therapy advice sections, which 231 doctors (42%) use every day and 191 (34%) use every week. The attitudes towards the prescribing guidelines booklet were generally positive. Doctors in privately run primary health care units and doctors running their own business were generally more negative and judged themselves to be less adherent to the prescribing guidelines booklet compared with doctors in publicly run primary health care units.
The prescribing guidelines booklet is frequently used and is generally appreciated, though differences exist between subgroups of users.
PMCID: PMC2556993  PMID: 18808661
7.  Individual case safety reports in children in commonly used drug groups – signal detection 
Due to few paediatric drug safety studies, knowledge on risks of drug treatment in children is limited. The knowledge needs to be increased to make proper risk-benefit analyses possible when treating paediatric patients with drugs. The aim of the present study was to investigate drug groups commonly used in children concerning type and frequency of individual case safety reports in children.
Number and type of individual case safety reports in the 30 groups of drugs (5th level ATC-code) most sold (number of defined daily doses) in outpatient treatment to children (<15 years old) during 2005 were obtained. Descriptive analyses of the adverse drug reactions reported in children were performed.
The number of individual case safety reports per million defined daily doses in children varied in the groups of drug between 0 and 24. The largest number was found in the drug group R03DC, the leukotriene receptor antagonist montelukast; the majority of the children being <5 years old and experiencing psychiatric adverse drug reactions.
The number of individual case safety reports per million defined daily doses varies in different groups of drugs. A possible signal for montelukast and psychiatric adverse drug reactions was found, which should be further explored.
PMCID: PMC2279106  PMID: 18366638
8.  Influence of an e-mail with a drug information attachment on sales of prescribed drugs: a randomized controlled study 
To provide doctors with producer-independent information to facilitate choice of treatment is an important task. The objective of the present study was to evaluate if an e-mail with a drug information attachment has effects on sales of prescribed drugs and if the design of the attachment is of importance.
The Swedish pharmaceutical benefit board found rizatriptan (Maxalt®) 10 mg to be the most cost-effective triptan. All 119 heads of primary care units in western Sweden were randomized to receive information concerning this conclusion via (i) e-mail with attachment I, (ii) e-mail with attachment II or (iii) no information (control). Attachment I was a short one (heading plus three lines text), whereas attachment II was a long one (heading plus one page text and one page with tables). The change in percentage rizatriptan of total triptans sold before and after the intervention (May – July 2004 and May – July 2005, respectively) was compared between the groups.
Totally 48,229 (2004) and 50,674 (2005) defined daily doses of triptans were prescribed and sold during May – July in primary care units in the western part of Sweden. The absolute change in percentage rizatriptan was greater in the intervention groups compared with the control group 2 (25th – 75th percentile: -3 – 7) vs 0 (-7 - 5), P = 0.031). The absolute change in percentage rizatriptan did not differ between the two attachment groups (P = 0.93).
An e-mail with a drug information attachment may influence sales of prescribed drugs. No difference between different designs of the attachment could be detected.
PMCID: PMC2203966  PMID: 17942000

Results 1-8 (8)