Aim of the review: To review the literature on the structure and operation of hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committees from an international point of view and examine the factors that influence decision-making of these committees.
Method: We performed a literature search in the Medline and Embase databases from 1997 to January 2009 with the search terms: formulary system decision making, pharmacy and therapeutics committee, formularies hospital, drug formulary, survey, drug selection and outcome assessment health care. Inclusion criteria were the following: studies analyzing Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committees published in English or Spanish from 1997 to January 2009. Exclusion criteria were: publications which were editorials or opinion pieces, studies relating to one hospital, and studies where full text could not be attained. The analysis was divided into structural/organizational data and data on factors affecting the decision-making process.
Results: Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria. Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committees and formularies were present in more than 90% of the hospitals in four of the five countries examined. Therapeutic interchange programs existed only in two of these countries. The mean number of committee members ranged between six and eight. More than 89% of the committees included a pharmacist. Standard operating procedures were implemented by 89% of the committees. The most influential factors in the decision-making were clinical trial results or drug costs rather than pharmacoeconomic studies. Other local organization-dependent factors were also important.
Conclusions: The structure and operating procedures of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committees are similar in select Western countries. Information from clinical trials is the most influential factor in the decision-making process.