Term: Number of Prescription Drugs Dispensed

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Glossary Definition

Last Updated: 2016-01-21


The number of different types of drugs prescribed is a comorbidity measure based on the ATC codes of prescribed medications for all prescriptions patients filled in the year prior to their diagnosis. Each pharmaceutical agent that falls under a different fourth–level ATC class was counted as a new drug for each patient (see Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) Classification for more information). A person could have several prescriptions for drugs in the same fourth–level ATC class, but the drug type would only be counted once in the total. It is presumed that an increased number of prescribed drugs equates to higher morbidity or sickness level.

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