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Open Access Research article

Evaluation of a drug-drug interaction: fax alert intervention program

Edward P Armstrong1*, Sharon M Wang2, Lisa E Hines1, Sara Gao2, Bimal V Patel2 and Daniel C Malone1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, 85721, Tucson, AZ, USA

2 MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc., San Diego, California, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:32  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-32

Published: 4 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Clinicians often encounter information about drug-drug interactions (DDIs) during clinical practice. This information is found within product information (hardcopy and electronic) and various electronic systems. Prescribers may receive medication-related communications in practice that are distributed by facsimile (fax), mail, or telephone from pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The purpose of this study was to determine if near-real time fax alerts for potential drug-drug interactions (PDDIs) would influence prescribing.

Methods

A prospective study, in cooperation with a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), was conducted targeting 18 clinically important PDDIs. Fax alerts included an individualized letter to the prescriber with a list of the interacting drugs, PDDI evidence summaries with citations, and recommended clinical management strategies. Among the 18 PDDIs, 13 PDDIs could be assessed for prescription therapy changes using pharmacy claims data. A prospective cohort design was used to evaluate changes in prescription dispensing 90-days following a PDDI fax alert.

Results

A total of 8,075 fax alerts were sent to prescribers and there were 4,712 alerts for the 13 PDDIs that could be assessed for change using pharmacy claims data. There were 2,019 patients (interventions) for which fax alerts were sent to their prescribers who were matched with a control group consisting of patients with the same PDDIs but for whom no fax alert was sent. Overall, this study found 154 (7.6%) of patients in the fax alert group compared to 132 (6.5%) in the control group had changes in therapy (pā€‰=ā€‰0.177).

Conclusions

This fax alert intervention program observed no statistically significant differences in prescribing with a fax alert compared to the control group. If PBMs chose to send individualized, evidence-based information to clinicians regarding drug-drug interactions, this study suggests it may not be an effective intervention to mitigate harm.

Keywords:
Drug interactions; Drug safety; Physician; Prescriber; Fax