Prevalence of drug-drug interactions of warfarin prescriptions in South Africa
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Background: Warfarin is an anticoagulant that is used for the prophylactic and therapeutic treatment for a wide range of thrombo-embolic disorders. The prescribing and monitoring of warfarin therapy is challenging due to the fact that warfarin exhibits numerous interactions with other drugs and a variety of factors that influence the dosing of warfarin. Objective: The general objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of drugs prescribed with warfarin that may have a potential drug-drug interaction (DDI) with warfarin. Methods: This was a cross-sectional, observational or qualitative study that was conducted on medicine claims data of a pharmaceutical benefit management company for patients receiving warfarin therapy for a six year period, ranging from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2010. Drug products that were co-prescribed with warfarin were also identified from the medicine claims database. The total number of prescriptions for all drug products during the study period were analysed and compared to the warfarin dataset. This was done by means of the SAS 9.1® computer package (SAS Institute, 2004). The total number of prescriptions and medicine items claimed from the database during the study period were respectively 49 523 818 and 118 305 941. Potential DDls between warfarin and coprescribed drugs were identified and classified according to a clinically significant rating. The clinically significance ratings of potential DDls are described in three degrees of severity, identified as major, moderate and minor (Tatro, 2011 :xiv). Results: The database consisted of 427 238 warfarin prescriptions and 427 744 warfarin medicine items, which represented 0.9% of the total number of prescriptions and 0.4% of total number of medicine items. The total number of patients who claimed warfarin prescriptions through the database represented 0.9% (n=68 575) of the total number of patients who claimed prescriptions in the total database (2005-2010). General practitioners prescribed the highest frequency of warfarin medicine items, representing 58.3% (n=249 202) of the total number prescribed. The age group that claimed the highest frequency of warfarin prescriptions (n=327 592, 76.6%) and the highest frequency of warfarin medicine items (n=327 984, 76.7%) was age group 4 (consisting of patients 59 years and older). The distribution between females and males regarding warfarin prescriptions claimed (n=205 999, 48.2%; n=221 117, 51.8%) and warfarin medicine items claimed (n=206 232, 48.2%; n=221 390, 51.8%) were almost equal. General practitioners prescribed the highest average PDD (7.01 mg ± 9.86 mg) of warfarin medicine items. Paediatric cardiologists prescribed the lowest average PDD (4.61 mg ± 1.29 mg) of warfarin medicine items. A d-value of 0.1 indicates that there is no practical difference of the average PDD between general practitioners and paediatric cardiologists. The average PDD of warfarin medicine items between females (6.60 mg ± 9.06 mg) and males (6.74 mg± 8.41 mg) was almost equal. The age group who was prescribed the highest average PDD was age group 2 (consisting of patients 20 years to 39 years old) (7.42 mg± 7.42 mg). Age group 4 (consisting of patients 59 years and older) (6.50 mg± 8.90 mg) was prescribed the lowest average PDD of warfarin medicine items. A d-value of 0.1 indicates that there is no practical difference of the average PDDs of warfarin medicine items between these two age groups. The results revealed that drugs with a significance rating (SR) of 1 (n=155 066, 43.3%), 2 (n=30128, 8.4%), 4 (n=137144, 38.3%), and 5 (n=36144, 10.1%) were co-prescribed with warfarin in the six year study period. The five drugs that was co-prescribed with warfarin most frequently was aspirin (n=48 903, 13.6%), thyroxine (n=33 954, 9.5%), amiodarone (n=25 056, 7.0%), simvastatin (n=19 070, 5.3%) and celecoxib (n=10 794, 3.0%). These five drugs have a SR of 1. Conclusions: This study showed that the top five drugs most frequently prescribed with warfarin are aspirin, thyroxine, amiodarone, simvastatin and celecoxib. These drugs can potentially interact with warfarin. The potential interactions of these drugs are rated with a significance rating of 1. This concludes that drugs that can potentially cause life threatening effects and permanent damage are commonly co-prescribed with warfarin. Clinical data concerning the INR or PT must be obtained in order to evaluate whether or not warfarin therapy is changed when a potentially interacting drug is co-prescribed. The age of the patients as well as the duration of warfarin treatment should also be obtained in order to assess whether warfarin treatment is changed with the progression of age.
- Health Sciences