Drug utilization review in an HMO I. Introduction and examples of methodology

Sheila K. West, Brenda M. Brandon, Anne M. Stevens, Ann Zauber, Gary Chase, Paul D. Stolley, Richard E. Rumrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An experimental drug utilization review program was developed for a health maintenance organization (HMO). The objectives of the program were to develop and implement an ongoing mechanism for reviewing drug use using criteria based on the scientific literature, and to evaluate the effect of the drug use review program on physician prescribing patterns. Seven therapeutic categories of drugs, accounting for over 65 per cent of prescribing, were selected and criteria developed for their use. The drug use review procedure is described briefly. The evaluation of the drug use review program is based on a comparison of rates of prescription use for specific therapeutic categories before and after the criteria were developed and approved. As an example, data for the antihistamine therapeutic category are presented. Criteria for prescribing antihistamines suggested restricting use of combination cold preparations and refraining from antihistamine use in viral upper respiratory tract infections. After the criteria were adopted, prescribing of antihistamines for viral URIs declined, particularly in pediatrics. In general, prescribing of combination antihistamine preparations did not change; where one combination preparation was deleted from the formulary, prescribers appeared to substitute another combination preparation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-514
Number of pages10
JournalMedical care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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