Provider and Patient Determinants of Generic Levothyroxine Prescribing: An Electronic Health Records–Based Study

Robert J. Romanelli, Vani Nimbal, Sarah K. Dutcher, Xia Pu, Jodi B. Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite the availability of generic levothyroxine products for more than a decade, uptake of these products is poor. Objective: We sought to evaluate determinants of generic prescribing of levothyroxine. Methods: In a cross-sectional analysis of electronic health records data between 2010 and 2013, we identified adult patients with a levothyroxine prescription from a primary-care physician (PCP) or endocrinologist. We used mixed-effect logistic regression models with random intercepts for prescribing provider to examine predictors of generic levothyroxine prescribing. Models include patient, prescription, and provider fixed-effect covariates. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs were generated. Between-provider random variation was quantified by the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Results: Study patients (n = 63 838) were clustered among 941 prescribing providers within 25 ambulatory care clinics. The overall prevalence of generic prescribing of levothyroxine was 73%. In the multivariable mixed-effect model, patients were significantly less likely to receive generic levothyroxine from an endocrinologist than a PCP (OR = 0.43; 95% CI = 0.33-0.55; P < 0.001). Women were less likely to receive generic levothyroxine than men from endocrinologists (OR = 0.68; 95% CI = 0.59-0.78; P < 0.001) but not from PCPs. Between-provider variation in generic prescribing was 18.3% in the absence of fixed-effect covariates and could be explained marginally by patient, prescription, and provider factors (ICC = 15.9%). Conclusions: Generic levothyroxine prescribing differed by PCPs and endocrinologists. Residual variation in generic prescribing, after accounting for measurable factors, indicates the need for provider interventions or patient education aimed at improving levothyroxine generic uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-648
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • electronic health records
  • generic prescribing
  • levothyroxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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