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Gender-Related Behaviors in Drug Consumption In Italy

      Objectives

      Sex differences in drug use have been demonstrated in several therapeutic area. However, there is a lack of overviews on sex differences of drug use in entire populations. The aim of this study was to describe difference in prevalence of drugs use in the entire population in Italy between men and women.

      Methods

      We performed a cross-sectional study using 2012 data from the IMS LifeLink Treatment DynamicsTM LRx Database, an italian-based administrative database that includes all prescribed drugs that are reimbursed by the Italian National Healthcare System. Pharmacological groups accounting for >90% of the total volume in Defined Daily Doses were considered. Crude and age adjusted differences in prevalence were calculated as risk ratios of women/men.

      Results

      31 therapeutic categories were analyzed and there are significant differences for 30 of them. The largest sex difference in prevalence was found for thyroid preparations that were more common in women (59.3/1000 women and 10.9/1000 men, respectively). This was followed by antiinflammatory and antirheumatic products (114.0/1000 women and 67.4/1000 men) and antidepressants (62.1/1000 women and 26.8/1000 men). The pharmacological groups with the largest relative differences of dispensed drugs were drugs affecting bone structure and mineralization (RR 12.4), calcium (RR 7.0) and thyroid therapy (RR 4.9), which were dispensed to women to a higher degree. Antigout-agents (RR 0.4), vasodilators used in cardiac diseases (RR 0.7) and ACE inhibitors (RR 0.7) were dispensed to men to a larger proportion.

      Conclusions

      This is the first Italian study that shows substantial differences between men and women. Our findings are congruent with those reported previously in the literature. Some of differences may be explained by variations in disease prevalence and severity, pathophysiology, or by other biological differences. However, it is also evident that other differences lack a rational medical explanation.