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Vitamin D prescriptions increased 75X in 8 years (Tuscany, Italy) – June 2015

Changing patterns of prescription in vitamin D supplementation in adults: analysis of a regional dataset

Osteoporosis International, June 2015
L. Cianferotti, S. Parri, G. Gronchi, C. Rizzuti, C. Fossi, D. M. Black, M. L. Brandi marialuisa.brandi at unifi.it
1. Department of Surgery and Translational Medicine, University of Florence, Viale Pieraccini, 6, 50139, Florence, Italy

Scientific interest in vitamin D has greatly risen during the last 10 years. The analysis of the changes in vitamin D prescriptions and related costs in a regional prescription dataset has revealed a profound increase in the period 2006–2013. Further studies on cost-effectiveness of such increase in vitamin D supplementation are needed.

The aim of this study was to analyze the changes in population-based prescription patterns of vitamin D supplements in the general population in an Italian regional setting during an 8-year period (2006–2013).

Data have been retrieved from the database of reimbursed prescriptions of the Region of Tuscany containing all of the medical reimbursements for the whole regional population (total of 3,619,872 and 3,692,828 inhabitants in 2006 and 2013, respectively). Data referring to adult population (age 20–90+ years) have been considered for this analysis (3,033,530 in 2006 and 3,066,741 in 2013). Two different flows (pharmaceutical distribution dataset and general data flow) were taken into account, using the ATC5 coding system for vitamin D supplements alone or in combination with calcium or alendronate. The number of boxes dispensed was retrieved, the number of patients receiving a specific treatment was calculated, and a cost analysis was performed.

An upsurge in the prescriptions of vitamin D compounds was disclosed, mainly sustained by a 75.3-fold increase in cholecalciferol, in all age groups and both sexes. This occurred in parallel to a 4.3-fold rise in prescriptions of oral alendronate in combination with cholecalciferol, a slight decrease in dispensed alendronate alone, and a modest increase in the prescription of the combination of calcium salts and cholecalciferol, and calcium alone. The total cost for reimbursement by the Regional Health System for vitamin D-related compounds rose from €3,242,100 euros in 2006 to €8,155,778 in 2013.

The huge increase in vitamin D prescriptions and related costs in the last decade, as revealed by the analysis of a regional pharmaceutical dataset, reflects the increased awareness of the possible consequences of a poor vitamin D status. Further studies on cost-effectiveness of such increase in vitamin D supplementation are needed.

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See also VitaminDWiki

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