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How many “me-too” drugs are enough? The case of physician preferences for specific statins


Background — The increasing availability of “me-too” drugs has provided considerable treatment options for clinicians. However, the number of such drugs within a class that are actually used by clinicians has not been well studied.

Objective — To determine the number of different statins that individual physicians use in practice.

Methods — The Ontario Drug Benefit database was used to identify physicians who issued at least 10 incident statin prescriptions between October 2001 and May 2003 for patients aged 66 years and older. A preferred statin was defined for each physician, and the proportion of each physician's incident prescriptions written for that agent was determined. We then determined the number of different statins required to fill each physician's incident prescribing needs.

Results — A total of 3426 physicians wrote 73 571 incident statin prescriptions. The mean percentage of prescriptions written for each physician's preferred statin formulation was 73.7%. Repeat analysis to examine the proportion of prescriptions filled using each physician's top 2 statin formulations found that the average physician wrote the vast majority of his or her incident prescriptions (94.9%) for only 1 or 2 statins. Half of all physicians used, at most, 2 different statins for all incident prescribing, while 91.3% of physicians used, at most, 3 different statins for all of their incident prescribing.

Conclusions — A high proportion of Ontario physicians issued the majority of their incident statin prescriptions for the same statin formulation. Most physicians required, at most, 3 different statins for all incident statin prescribing.



Austin PC, Mamdani MM, Juurlink DN. Ann Pharmacother. 2006; 40(6):1047-51. Epub 2006 May 16.

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