• compliance;
  • prescription database;
  • statins

Aims  Several studies have found that compliance with lipid-lowering drug (LLD) treatment is low. However, the results of these studies were based on crude measures of compliance. The aim of this study was to describe compliance with statin treatment by analysing prescription patterns on an individual level in a population-based prescription database over a 6 year period.

Methods  For incident statin users, all prescriptions for statins and drugs indicating cardiovascular disease or diabetes were retrieved from the OPED prescription database covering a population of about 470 000 inhabitants. Treatment was considered discontinued if the interval between two prescriptions exceeded number of tablets prescribed, plus 30 days. Compliance was assessed in terms of persistence and continuity. Persistence was defined as the period from the first prescription date to the date of discontinuation. Continuity was defined as the number of days with treatment (=number of tablets) divided by the total number of days in the period of persistence.

Results  11% of the study cohort only received a single statin prescription. Survival analyses revealed a median persistence of 41 months. Less than 15% of the patients had more than 20% days without therapy within the period of persistence. Patients under 45 years without drug indicators of cardiovascular disease or diabetes presented the lowest compliance.

Conclusions  The study showed good compliance with statin treatment in terms of persistence and continuity. A high percentage of the youngest patients, however, seemed to discontinue treatment before obtaining the full benefit in terms of decreased risk of coronary heart morbidity and mortality.