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Keywords:

  • adoption;
  • coxibs;
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug;
  • patient characteristics;
  • physician;
  • prescribing

Summary

Background and objective:  Cyclooxygenase 2-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, coxibs) are recommended primarily for patients at high risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, most of them being elderly. Our objective was to describe and analyse patient- and physician-related factors affecting the adoption of celecoxib and rofecoxib 2 years after their launch in Finland.

Methods:  Retrospective analysis of the nationwide Prescription Register. Physicians who had issued at least 200 reimbursed prescriptions in 2002 (n = 12 033, 80% of working-age Finnish physicians) were involved in the analysis.

Results and discussion:  Excluding patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), almost one-fifth (18%) of NSAIDs prescriptions were for coxibs. In patients with RA the share was 25%. The share of coxib prescriptions of all NSAIDs increased with age of the patient. Over one half (58%) of coxib prescriptions were issued for patients under 65 years of age. Specialists in physical and rehabilitation medicine were the fastest adopters of coxibs: one-third of their NSAID prescriptions in 2002 were for coxibs. Primary care physicians were the most conservative both in adopting and favouring coxibs.

Conclusions:  Coxibs have gained the status of standard prescription NSAIDs within a few years. Their use should be restricted to patients who could benefit most from the use. Routine prescribing of expensive new drugs increases the drug bill without additional health gain.