Who prescribes drugs to patients: A Danish register-based study

Anton Pottegård*, Morten Olesen, Bo Christensen, Morten Bondo Christensen, Jesper Hallas, Lotte Rasmussen

*Corresponding author for this work

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We describe the distribution of prescriber types responsible for issuing prescriptions in Denmark. Using a 20% random sample of all Danes alive during 2000–2018 (n = 1 515 025) and all their prescriptions filled at community pharmacies (n = 182 143 707), we found that general practitioners issued 88% of all prescriptions, followed by hospital physicians (7.4%) and private practicing specialists (4.2%). These values were stable over the study period. With increasing patient age, general practitioners were responsible for a larger proportion of prescriptions (e.g. 68% for patients aged 0–17 y and 89% for patients ≥51 y). General practitioners were responsible for 84% of all treatment initiation (first prescription) and 90% of all maintenance treatment. Corresponding values for hospital physicians were 9.5 and 6.3%, and for private practicing specialists 5.3 and 3.6%. In conclusion, general practitioners are responsible for the vast majority of prescribing in Denmark, including both treatment initiation and continuation, in particular among the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2982-2987
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • clinical pharmacology
  • drug utilisation
  • epidemiology
  • pharmacoepidemiology
  • pharmacotherapy
  • prescribing


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