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(1993; 221 pages)
Medicines are part of our everyday lives. But how many drugs do people take and what sort, how much do they cost, and who influences the way they are prescribed and the way they are actually taken? The surprising answer is that we still do not know as much as we should. But drug utilization research is rapidly filling in the gaps. This book describes the latest research methods and their use by the members of the WHO Drug Utilization Research Group. In the early days, the development of electronic data processing coincided with the growing need to monitor drug use. This enabled the comprehensive collection of data. Drugs were classified and defined so that valid comparisons became possible. Since then, studies have moved on to more sophisticated analyses: international comparisons show wide variations in the costs of drugs, in the relative share of different drugs in the market, in the proportion of the health budget spent on drugs and in the relation of the health budget to GNP. As a more holistic concept of people's health takes hold, a broader view is taken of the use of drugs. Studies of compliance (which assume the prescribing physician is the main influence on the patient) have widened to incorporate all the social and cultural influences that affect the patient as a consumer. Every country needs a drug policy to make the most rational and cost - effective use of a very expensive part of the health service. Drug utilization research provides the tools for them to do so. This book is not just a record of achievements in that field; it is also a guide to students and researchers as well as people in the pharmaceutical industry.