gms | German Medical Science

15th Annual Meeting of the German Drug Utilisation Research Group (GAA)

Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie

20.11. - 21.11.2008, Bonn

Cross National Comparison of Drug Utilization Research – Results from the ISPE / EuroDURG Project

AM-Verbauchsdaten im internationalen Vergleich – Ergebnisse des ISPE / EuroDURG-Projektes

Meeting Abstract

  • Vera Vlahovic-Palcevski - Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University Hospital Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia
  • corresponding author Katrin Janhsen - Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen
  • Monique Elseviers - University of Antwerp-Campus, Wilrijk, Belgium
  • Robert Vander Stichele - Heymans Institute of Pharmacology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelanwendungsforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie e.V. (GAA). 15. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Arzneimittelanwendungsforschung und Arzneimittelepidemiologie. Bonn, 20.-21.11.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2008. Doc08gaa06

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: November 6, 2008

© 2008 Vlahovic-Palcevski et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Context: Drug utilization research (DUR) is a broad collection of descriptive and analytical methods for the quantification, evaluation, and understanding of the processes of prescribing, dispensing and consumption of medicines, for the testing of interventions to enhance the quality of these processes and for investigating the impact of pharmaceutical policy especially subsidizations and supporting best practices.

From the very beginning of DUR in early 1960s the importance of comparing drug use between countries and regions has been perceived. Since then, a lot has been accomplished in methodological matters. Now in the era of globalization the significance of cross-national comparisons in DUR has grown. However, from the international perspective, little is known on the current ability to collect continuous drug consumption data, and on the sophistication of national drug utilization monitoring systems and the subsequent use of the data.

Aim of the study: Aim of the project was to gather information on the state of the art of national drug utilization monitoring systems in the countries of the world, as a basis for the development of international cooperation in this field.

Long-term objectives are to stimulate the worldwide use of WHO indicators of rational drug use, cross-national monitoring programs of use of specific drugs, recording of drug use in cross-national epidemiological disease registers and to enhance comparability of data on drug exposure (volumen, expenditures and quality) in international databases.

Material and methods: A structured questionnaire was sent out to the chairs of national DURGs and to other key informants and contact persons (via ISPE SIG-DUR and EuroDURG executive committee members) within each country in April-May 2008.

It focussed on the national organization of DUR, the sophistication of DUR data collection in terms of volume and/or expenditures for ambulatory and hospital care, description of available data sources and information concerning prescribing quality indicators used in a country.

Additionally, national drug consumption data was collected for the years 2000-2007 for systemic antibacterials in hospital care, clopidrogel, statins, and proton pump inhibitors in ambulatory care.

Results: 24 countries completed the questionnaire. In 20 countries ambulatory care data was separately available, 13 could also deliver hospital care data.

Most countries had several data sources available for DUR activities. DUR data derived mostly from dispensing, claims or wholesale databases. WHO-ATC was most commonly used as classification system.

Conclusions: The project demonstrated the high variability in sophistication of available DUR data, limiting the possibilities for international comparison of drug consumption. All participants were interested to take part in more specific DUR projects in the future.