Publication authors: Hempenius, M. M. Groenwold, Rhhr Souverein, P. C. P. de Boer, A. A. Klungel, O. H. O. Gardarsdottir, H. H.
Aims: Drug exposure status based on routinely collected data might be misclassified when the database contains only prescriptions from 1 type of prescriber (e.g. general practitioner and not specialist). This study aims to quantify the impact of such exposure misclassification on the risk of major bleeding and stroke/transient ischaemic attack (TIA)associated with direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) vs. vitamin K antagonists (VKAs).
Methods: Incident anticoagulant users (>12 mo free of anticoagulation use) in the Dutch PHARMO Database Network between 2008 and 2017 were included. Drug exposure was assessed using pharmacy dispensing information. The risks of hospital admission of major bleeding for DOAC vs. VKA users was assessed with Cox regression analysis, where exposure was based on all dispensings, on general practitioner (GP)-prescribed dispensings only or on specialist-prescribed dispensings only. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated also for hospitalization for gastrointestinal bleeding, intracranial bleeding and stroke/TIA.
Results: We included 99 182 VKA-initiators and 21 795 DOAC-initiators. Use of DOAC was associated with a lower risk of major bleeding compared to VKA use; HR 0.79 (95% confidence interval 0.70-0.90), 0.78 (0.68-0.91) and 0.62 (0.50-0.76), for exposure based on complete dispensing information, only GP- and only specialist-prescribed dispensings, respectively. Similar results were found for the other bleeding outcomes. For stroke/TIA the HRs were 0.96 (0.84-1.09), 1.00 (0.84-1.18) and 0.72 (0.58-0.90), respectively.
Conclusion: Including only GP-prescribed anticoagulant dispensings in this case did not materially impact the effect estimates compared to including all anticoagulant dispensings. Including only specialist-prescribed dispensings, however, strengthened the effect estimates.