Background — Hospitals in Canada manage their formularies independently, yet many inpatients are discharged on medications which will be purchased through publicly-funded programs. The researchers sought to determine how much public money could be saved on chronic medications if hospitals promoted the initiation of agents with the lowest outpatient formulary prices.
Methods — The researchers used administrative databases for the province of Ontario to identify patients initiated on a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) following hospital admission from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. The researchers assessed the cost to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODB) over the year following initiation and determined the cost savings if prescriptions were substituted with the least expensive agent in each class.
Results — The cost for filling all PPI, ACE inhibitor and ARB prescriptions was $ 2.48 million, $968 thousand and $325 thousand, respectively. Substituting the least expensive agent could have saved $1.16 million (47%) for PPIs, $162 thousand (17%) for ACE inhibitors and $14 thousand (4%) for ARBs over the year following discharge.
Interpretation — In a setting where outpatient prescriptions are publicly funded, harmonising outpatient formularies with inpatient therapeutic substitution resulted in modest cost savings and may be one way to control rising pharmaceutical costs.