Potential of prescription registries to capture individual-level use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in Denmark: trends in utilization 1999-2012

Clin Epidemiol. 2014 May 12;6:155-68. doi: 10.2147/CLEP.S59156. eCollection 2014.


Background: Due to over-the-counter availability, no consensus exists on whether adequate information on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use can be obtained from prescription registries.

Objectives: To examine utilization of aspirin and nonaspirin NSAIDs in Denmark between 1999 and 2012 and to quantify the proportion of total sales that was sold on prescription.

Method: Based on nationwide data from the Danish Serum Institute and the Danish National Prescription Registry, we retrieved sales statistics for the Danish primary health care sector to calculate 1-year prevalences of prescription users of aspirin or nonaspirin NSAIDs, and to estimate the corresponding proportions of total sales dispensed on prescription.

Results: Both low-dose aspirin and nonaspirin NSAIDs were commonly used in the Danish population between 1999 and 2012, particularly among elderly individuals. The 1-year prevalence of prescribed low-dose aspirin increased throughout the study period, notably among men. Nonaspirin NSAID use was frequent in all age groups above 15 years and showed a female preponderance. Overall, the prevalence of prescribed nonaspirin NSAIDs decreased moderately after 2004, but substantial variation according to NSAID subtype was observed; ibuprofen use increased, use of all newer selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors nearly ceased after 2004, diclofenac use decreased by nearly 50% after 2008, and naproxen use remained stable. As of 2012, the prescribed proportion of individual-level NSAID sales was 92% for low-dose aspirin, 66% for ibuprofen, and 100% for all other NSAIDs.

Conclusion: The potential for identifying NSAID use from prescription registries in Denmark is high. Low-dose aspirin and nonaspirin NSAID use varied substantially between 1999 and 2012. Notably, use of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors nearly ceased, use of diclofenac decreased markedly, and naproxen use remained unaltered.

Keywords: NSAID; drug utilization; over-the-counter; registries.