Impact of the reclassification of omeprazole on the prescribing and sales of ulcer healing drugs
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To investigate if the reclassification of omeprazole from a prescription only medicine to pharmacy sale status had an impact on the prescribing and sales of ulcer-healing drugs and whether deprivation had any influence on this.
Primary care, Wales, UK.
Retrospective analysis (March 2002 to February 2005) of prescription data and pharmacy sales data.
Main outcome measure
Number of items per 1,000 population.
The number of prescription items for ulcer-healing drugs across Wales increased in each year of the study. The number of items per 1,000 population for proton pump inhibitors increased by 12.4% (473.3 to 531.8 items) in 2003/04 and 13.8% (531.8 to 605.1 items) in 2004/05, whereas the number of items per 1,000 population for H2 antagonists fell by 6.2% (149.1 to 139.9 items), and 5.7% (139.9 to 131.9 items) during 2003/04 and 2004/05, respectively. The sale of items per 1,000 population of H2 antagonists increased by 34.3% (19.8 to 26.6 items) in 2003/04, but fell by 8.6% (26.6 to 24.3 items) in 2004/05. In February 2005, 12 months after reclassification, omeprazole accounted for 7.6% (2.0 items per 1,000 population) of the total sales (26.3 items per 1,000 population) of ulcer-healing drugs from pharmacies in Wales. Areas with high multiple deprivation and unemployment were significantly associated with the prescribing of ulcer-healing drugs, H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors. Multiple deprivation, unemployment and low income explained 21% of the variation in prescribing of ulcer-healing drugs. The sale of omeprazole through pharmacies was not related to these deprivation characteristics.
Twelve months after the reclassification of omeprazole the market growth of H2 antagonists sold from pharmacies was halted although there was no apparent impact on␣the prescription of ulcer-healing drugs. As a consequence there was no saving to the health service drug␣budget associated with the reclassification of omeprazole.
KeywordsOmeprazole OTC Over the counter Prescribing Reclassification Ulcer-healing drugs
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This study was supported by funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.
Conflict of interests None declared.
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