OBJECTIVE - To determine the pattern of use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the Australian community, 1990-1994.
DESIGN - Data from the national drug utilisation database were expressed in defined daily doses per 1000 population per day (DDDs/1000 population per day). Temporal trends were assessed and comparisons were made with NSAID use in other countries. Epidemiological data were used to estimate the likely impact of changing NSAID use on peptic ulcer hospitalisation rates.
SETTING - Australian community (excluding hospitals).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES - Estimated consumption of prescription NSAIDs, expressed in DDDs/1000 population per day.
RESULTS - NSAID use in the Australian community fell from 50.1 DDDs/1000 population per day in 1990 to 34.6 DDDs/1000 population per day in 1994 (down 31%). From this reduced exposure we estimated that the number of admissions for NSAID-related upper gastrointestinal complications will have fallen by about 400 per year. Market research data for this period show a lower percentage use of NSAIDs for osteoarthritis and a decrease in the proportion of use in age groups over 50 years.
CONCLUSIONS - The level of use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in Australia has been high in comparison with other countries, but in recent years has fallen markedly. This fall occurred in conjunction with regulatory interventions, educational campaigns and increased concern in the medical and lay press regarding the risks associated with the use of NSAIDs.