Introduction

A systematic review of the 384 abstracts presented at the Sixteenth International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology in 2000 showed that the majority of European pharmacoepidemiological studies (n = 160) were conducted by means of automated general practitioner (GP), pharmacy or insurance data (see Table 32.1). Obviously, the UK (General Practitioners Research database (GPRD)) and Scotland alone (Medicines Monitoring Unit (MEMO)) ranked highest in the percentage of abstracts based on automated databases, but the next three positions were taken by The Netherlands, Denmark and Italy. The Netherlands is well known for its automated pharmacy records, and increasingly for its GP databases. Denmark is well known for its regional and national pharmacy claims databases that may be linked to other registries, and the National Health Service (NHS) system in Italy has allowed for building up large regional databases that contain both pharmacy claims as well as hospitalisation data.

This chapter describes the most important automated GP and record linkage databases from

The Netherlands, Denmark and Italy that have been used for pharmacoepidemiological research between 1990 and 2001 and it provides a list of pharmacoepidemiological papers that have resulted from the databases in these countries. Since the quality of databases depends on the particular healthcare systems they are embedded in, a summary of the major healthcare characteristics will be provided for each of these countries. Table 32.2 provides a systematic overview of the major characteristics of the databases.

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