Introduction: Administrative health data, such as pharmacy claims data, present a valuable resource for conducting pharmacoepidemiological and health services research. Often, data are available for whole populations allowing population level analyses. Moreover, their routine collection ensures that the data reflect health care utilisation in the real-world setting compared to data collected in clinical trials.
Setting and methods: The Irish Health Service Executive-Primary Care Reimbursement Service (HSE-PCRS) community pharmacy claims database is described. The availability of demographic variables and drug-related information is discussed. The strengths and limitations associated using this database for conducting research are presented, in particular, internal and external validity. Examples of recently conducted research using the HSE-PCRS pharmacy claims database are used to illustrate the breadth of its use.
Results and conclusions: The HSE-PCRS national pharmacy claims database is a large, high-quality, valid and accurate data source for measuring drug exposure in specific populations in Ireland. The main limitation is the lack of generalisability for those aged <70 years and the lack of information on indication or outcome.
Keywords: Claims data; Database; Drug utilisation; Pharmacoepidemiology.