ACE inhibitors overprescribed

April 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

In an independent analysis of prescription drug treatments for hypertension, the Evanston, IL-based health data company Solucient found that 49% of patients who were started on an ACE inhibitor had no prior history of hypertension treatment during the previous 12 months. Moreover, three in four of those patients also had no history of heart failure or diabetes, two conditions that indicate ACE inhibitors as a first-line hypertension therapy.

In an independent analysis of prescription drug treatments for hypertension, the Evanston, IL-based health data company Solucient found that 49% of patients who were started on an ACE inhibitor had no prior history of hypertension treatment during the previous 12 months. Moreover, three in four of those patients also had no history of heart failure or diabetes, two conditions that indicate ACE inhibitors as a first-line hypertension therapy.

These findings suggest that many physicians may prescribe drugs in the ACE inhibitor class more readily for first-line high blood pressure treatment than is recommended in guidelines such as those published by the National Institutes of Health.

The often-controversial guidelines, from the NIH's "Sixth Annual Report of the Joint National Committee on the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure," indicate that beta-blockers or diuretics should be the first course of hypertension treatment for all patients except those with a history of diabetes or congestive heart failure.

The analysis of hypertension drug patterns was conducted through Solucient's new ScriptSwitch study, which tracks drug usage and patterns.

The ScriptSwitch study also found that about one in six patients who started an ACE inhibitor as the only therapy stopped it and was not administered any other treatment for at least 60 days. PR

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