The Swedish Prescribed Drug Register

The Swedish Prescribed Drug Register provides the basis for the official statistics about prescribed drugs in Sweden.

The Swedish Prescribed Drug Register with personal identity numbers was established in July 2005 and contains all prescribed drugs dispensed at pharmacies. About 67 percent (6.8 million) of the population were prescribed a pharmaceutical at least once 2019. Each row in the register corresponds to one dispensation at a pharmacy. The number of rows in the register amounts to more than 100 million per year. This level has remained almost unchanged for several years.

Increase patient safety in the pharmaceutical area

The purpose of the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register is to increase the patient safety in the pharmaceutical area. The register is used by researchers, media, analysts in the regions and authorities as well as by the pharmaceutical industry. The register can be linked to other health data registers, for example the National Patient Register or the Swedish Medical Birth Register. Increased knowledge of the effects and safety of different drugs may be of benefit to each individual patient in the long run.

The collected information could for example be used to answer:

  • Does antibiotic prescription continue to decline?
  • How often are the drugs recommended in national guidelines and care programs prescribed to patients?
  • What are the benefits and risks of pharmaceutical treatment?
  • Are there regional differences in the prescription of ADHD drugs?

New data each month from the Swedish eHealth Agency

The register is updated each month with new data from the Swedish eHealth Agency based on the monthly billing of the pharmacies. The register contains all prescribed drugs that are dispensed at pharmacies as well as information on dispensed medical devices and medical consumables within the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, such as ostomy products and foods for nutritional use by children under 16 years.

Drugs administered at hospital settings or nursing homes are not included in the register. Vaccines and over-the-counter medicines are not included in the register. In the register it is not possible to identify individual prescribers or the individual prescriber’s workplace.

Information in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register

The register contains information about

  • patient (gender, age, place of residence)
  • product (for example ATC code, drug name, strength, pack size, included/not included in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme)
  • the prescription (for example prescribed quantity/number of packages, strength, date of prescription, date of purchase and type of ordination.)
  • the costs (total cost, patient cost, region’s cost and additional patient cost)
  • the prescriber (work title, kind of care according to the work-place, education code and specialist education code).

For a complete list of all variables see the variable list (xlsx).

Reporting procedures and quality of data

All data in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register comes from the Swedish eHealth Agency. Pharmacies, retailers and wholesalers are obligated to report their sales to the Swedish eHealth Agency. In addition, pharmacies must submit additional information to the Swedish eHealth Agency when a prescribed drug is dispensed. The Swedish eHealth Agency in turn submits information on prescription dispensations to the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The quality of the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register is overall very good. The risk of measurement errors is small since the collection process is largely automated and is based on administrative systems. The Swedish eHealth Agency checks the quality of the sales data that the pharmacies deliver before it is included in the register, but errors and incompletions cannot be completely avoided.

A small proportion of the rows in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register have negative values for the variables antal, tkost, lankost, patkost, merkost and fddd. This is not a lack of quality but rather how the register is corrected. This may be due to the fact that a drug has been registered in the system but has not been retrieved or that a pharmacy has accepted a repurchase of medicines (e.g. in case of product failure). There may also be misreported transactions that need to be corrected for some reason. The minus rows are used for the register to match when aggregating and summing.

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