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Dispensing patterns of prescription-only antiobesity preparations in South Africa

Ilse Truter


Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the dispensing patterns of prescription-only antiobesity preparations in South Africa (classified as Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) group A08).

Design: Retrospective, cross-sectional drug utilisation study using electronic dispensing records.

Setting: Private sector community or retail pharmacies in South Africa.

Subjects: Patients who received one or more antiobesity medications in ATC group A08 in 2013.

Outcome measures: Number of patients by age and gender, prescribing frequency and cost of antiobesity prescriptions, and trends observed.

Results: A total of 27 703 patients were prescribed 52 555 products for antiobesity medication during 2013. The average age of patients was 41.71 (SD = 11.37) years, with male patients older than female patients (46.09 and 40.02 years, respectively). More females (72.19%) were dispensed antiobesity products, and females received their prescriptions at a younger average age than male patients. Five active ingredients were dispensed. Phentermine was prescribed the most, accounting for 92.44% of all the antiobesity prescriptions, followed by orlistat (6.08%), phendimetrazine (1.36%), D-norpseudoephedrine (0.06%) and diethylpropion (0.05%). Most patients (79.44%) received only short-term therapy (one or two prescriptions for an antiobesity product during the year). A small percentage (0.30%) of young patients (18 years and younger) received antiobesity products, despite the fact that the safety of these products in children has not been proven.

Conclusions: Most antiobesity preparations were prescribed to females. Phentermine was the most commonly dispensed active ingredient, followed by orlistat. Further studies on patient outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of these products should be conducted.

Keywords: antiobesity medicine, dispensing patterns, drug utilisation review, DUR, pharmacy

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eISSN: 2221-1268
print ISSN: 1607-0658