Author(s): Chauhan D, Mason A
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Abstract BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The rate of uptake of new medicines in the UK is slower than in many other OECD countries. The majority of new medicines are introduced initially in secondary care and prescribed by specialists. However, the reasons for relatively low precribing levels are poorly understood. This review explores the determinants of uptake of new medicines in secondary care. METHODS: Nine electronic databases were searched covering the period 1992-2006. Once the searches had been run, records were downloaded and those which evaluated uptake of new medicines in secondary care were identified. UK studies were of primary interest, although research conducted in other countries was also reviewed if relevant. With the exception of 'think pieces', eligibility was not limited by study design. Studies published in languages other than English were excluded from the review. Determinants of uptake in secondary care were classified using Bonair and Persson's typology for determinants of the diffusion of innovation. RESULTS: Almost 1400 records were screened for eligibility, and 29 studies were included in the review. Prescribing of new medicines in secondary care was found to be subject to a number of interacting influences. The support structures which exist within secondary care facilitate access to other colleagues and shape prescribing practices. Clinical trial investigators and physicians who sit on decision-making bodies such as Drug and Therapeutic Committees (DTCs) appear to have a special influence due to their proximity to their research and understanding of evidence base. Pharmaceutical representatives may also influence prescribing decisions through funding of meetings and academic detailing, but clinicians are wary of potential bias. Little evidence on the influence of patients upon prescribing decisions was identified. The impact of clinical guidelines has been variable. Some guidelines have significantly increased the uptake of new medicines, but others have had little discernible impact despite extensive dissemination. However given the increasing influence of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, guidelines may become more important. The impact of financial prescribing incentives on secondary care prescribing is unclear. Although cost and budget may influence hospital prescribing of new drugs, they are of secondary importance to the safety and effectiveness profile of the medicine. If a drug has a novel mechanism of action, or belongs to a class with few alternatives, clinicians are more likely to consider it favourably as a prescribing option. CONCLUSIONS: Although price does not appear to be a primary factor behind prescribing decision-making, in secondary care there has long been a historical need for formal purchasing decisions through the DTC, which differentiates it from primary care. This, in addition to increasing pressures for cost-effectiveness within the NHS means that cost will appear more frequently on clinician consciousness. As a result, guidelines are more likely to be implemented using the strong professional networks in existence within secondary care, and although the influence of patients has not been addressed by the literature, they are likely to have an increasing input into the prescribing decision, given the importance of patient involvement in current UK policy.
This article was published in J Clin Pharm Ther
and referenced in Advances in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety