Drug prescription in general practice

Researchers in the research group "Drug Prescription in General Practice": 

John Sahl Andersen (research group leader)
Jakob Kragstrup
Lars Bjerrum
Michael Nixon

The drug sales for preventive purpose in Denmark are as in other western countries very high. In 2010 the prevalence of statin use was almost 20% among people aged 40+ years in Denmark. Around 35% of the Danish population over the age of 50 has been prescribed antihypertensive drugs.  An overwhelming part of the prescriptions are done in general practice.

Initially, statins were used for patients, who had suffered a cardio-vascular event, but today a major part of the prescriptions for statins are issued for primary prevention of elevated cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) by general practitioners. 

The limits for treatment of hypertensions have steadily been lowered the last decades.  Evidence shows that the effect of treatment according to the extended indications is marginal. 

Problems related to preventive drugs may be: 1) Preventive medication can contribute to side effects, polypharmacy, lower compliance, and drug interactions, 2) People who once thought of themselves as healthy can come to feel ill when given preventive drugs, 3) The consumption of pharmaceuticals is a financial burden both for individuals and for the society.

Another example of increasing use of drugs is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) since the nineties. Antidepressive drugs were in 2011 given to 8% of the Danish population in and especially old people are often treated with SSRIs.  As with statins and antihypertensive drugs the indications have been extended now including anxiety, eating disorders, OCD and others. Meanwhile there is little knowledge of the actual indications used in the clinical setting in general practice and the widespread use is justified. 

The drug prescription study group wants to address the problems related to extensive use of preventive drugs and antidepressants in general practice.