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1.  Comparison of two alternative study designs in assessment of medicines utilisation in neonates 
Estimates of prevalence are known to be affected by the design of cross-sectional studies. A pan-European study provided an opportunity to compare the effect of two cross-sectional study designs on estimates of medicines use.
A Service evaluation survey (SES) and a web-based point-prevalence study (PPS) were conducted as part of a European study of neonatal exposure to excipients. Neonatal units from all European Union countries plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia were invited to participate. All medicines prescribed to neonates were recorded during three-day and one-day study periods in the SES and PPS, respectively. In the PPS individual demographic and prescription data were also collected.
To compare the probabilities that a particular medicine would be reported by each study multilevel mixed effects logistic regression models with crossed random effects were applied. The relationship between medicines exposure at the unit and individual levels in the PPS data was assessed using polynomial regression with square root transformation.
Of 31 invited countries 20 and 21 with 115 and 89 units joined the SES and PPS, respectively. Out of 5,572,859 live births in invited countries in 2010 a higher proportion was covered by units participating in the SES compared to the PPS (11% vs 6%, respectively; OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.87-1.89). A greater number of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), manufacturers and trade names were registered in the SES compared to the PPS. High correlation between the two studies in frequency of use for each specified API was seen (R2 = 0.86). The average probability of a department to use a given API was greater in the SES compared to the PPS (OR 2.36; 95% CI 2.05-2.73) with higher frequency of use and longer average duration of prescription further increasing the difference. The polynomial regression model described the correlation between APIs exposure on unit and individual level well (R2 = 0.93).
The simple data structure and longer study period of the SES resulted in improved recruitment and higher likelihood of capture for a given API. The frequency of use at the unit level appears a good surrogate of individual exposure rates.
PMCID: PMC4110064  PMID: 25027048
Pharmacoepidemiologic methods; Cross-sectional studies; Data collection; Drug/excipient exposure
2.  Hospitalised neonates in Estonia commonly receive potentially harmful excipients 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:136.
Information on the neonatal exposure to excipients is limited. Our aim was to describe the extent of excipient intake by Estonian neonates; to classify the excipients according to potential neonatal toxicity and thereby to measure the extent of exposure of neonates to potentially harmful excipients.
A prospective cohort study that recorded all medicines prescribed to patients aged below 28 days admitted to Tartu University Hospital from 01.02-01.08 2008 and to Tallinn Children’s Hospital from 01.02- 01.08 2009 was conducted. Excipients were identified from Summaries of Product Characteristics and classified according to toxicity following a literature review.
1961 prescriptions comprising 107 medicines were written for 348/490 neonates admitted. A total of 123 excipients were found in 1620 (83%) prescriptions and 93 (87%) medicines. 47 (38%) of these excipients were classified as potentially or known to be harmful to neonates. Most neonates (97%) received at least one medicine (median number 2) with potentially or known to be harmful excipient. Parabens were the most commonly used known to be harmful excipients and sodium metabisulphite the most commonly used potentially harmful excipient, received by 343 (99%) and 297 (85%) of treated neonates, respectively.
Hospitalised neonates in Estonia are commonly receiving a wide range of excipients with their medication. Quantitative information about excipients should be made available to pharmacists and neonatologists helping them to take into account excipient issues when selecting medicines and to monitor for adverse effects if administration of medicines containing excipients is unavoidable.
PMCID: PMC3483231  PMID: 22931304
Harmful excipient; Neonate

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