Sex-related differences in hospital admissions attributed to adverse drug reactions in the Netherlands

Eline Rodenburg, Bruno Stricker, Loes Visser

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Women are more at risk for developing adverse drug reactions (ADRs) due to differences in pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and drug use. ADRs regularly lead to hospital admissions. WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS There are differences between the sexes in hospital admissions attributed to ADRs. The risk of being hospitalized with an ADR varies between the sexes in the type of reaction and the causative drug. AIM Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are a major burden in health care, regularly leading to hospital admission, morbidity or death. Women tend to have a higher risk of adverse drug reactions with a 1.5 to 1.7-fold greater risk than men. Our primary aim was to study differences in ADR-related hospitalizations between the sexes. METHODS We conducted a nationwide study of all ADR-related hospitalizations in the period between 2000 and 2005 in the Netherlands, which were selected from all 9 287 162 hospital admissions in this period. ADR-drug group combinations with at least 50 admissions in one of the sexes were selected. Relative risks and confidence intervals were calculated with respect to total admissions and total prescriptions with men as reference. RESULTS In total, 0.41% of the 4 236 368 admissions in men (95% CI 0.40, 0.42%) and 0.47% of the 5 050 794 admissions in women (95% CI 0.46, 0.48%) were attributed to an ADR by medical specialists (57% of all ADR-related admissions were in women). Differences between the sexes in risk for ADR-related hospitalization were found for antineoplastic and immunosuppressive drugs, antirheumatics, anticoagulants and salicylates, cardiovascular and neurological drugs, steroids and antibiotics. In certain drug categories, risks for hospitalization changed after taking into account total drug prescriptions. CONCLUSION In all different drug classes, significant differences exist between the sexes in ADR-related hospital admissions. Cardiovascular drugs account for the most pronounced differences between men and women. More research is needed to explain the clear sex differences in ADR-related hospital admissions.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-01-64-03
  • EMC NIHES-03-77-02
  • EMC OR-01-34-01

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