Who prescribes drugs to patients: A Danish register-based study

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2021 Jul;87(7):2982-2987. doi: 10.1111/bcp.14691. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


We describe the distribution of prescriber types responsible for issuing prescriptions in Denmark. Using a 20% random sample of all Danes alive during 2000-2018 (n = 1 515 025) and all their prescriptions filled at community pharmacies (n = 182 143 707), we found that general practitioners issued 88% of all prescriptions, followed by hospital physicians (7.4%) and private practicing specialists (4.2%). These values were stable over the study period. With increasing patient age, general practitioners were responsible for a larger proportion of prescriptions (e.g. 68% for patients aged 0-17 y and 89% for patients ≥51 y). General practitioners were responsible for 84% of all treatment initiation (first prescription) and 90% of all maintenance treatment. Corresponding values for hospital physicians were 9.5 and 6.3%, and for private practicing specialists 5.3 and 3.6%. In conclusion, general practitioners are responsible for the vast majority of prescribing in Denmark, including both treatment initiation and continuation, in particular among the elderly.

Keywords: clinical pharmacology; drug utilisation; epidemiology; pharmacoepidemiology; pharmacotherapy; prescribing.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Denmark
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations