In this article we report on the development, introduction, and maintenance of a policy to promote rational use of thrombolytic drugs by hospital doctors. The work was undertaken within the framework of the voluntarily operated Riverside East drugs guide (formulary) management system (FMS). The policy was introduced in October 1988 and revised in November 1989 to coincide with the launch of the new, expensive thrombolytic drugs, alteplase (rt-PA, Actilyse) in 1988 and antistreplase (APSAC, Eminase) in 1989. Streptokinase was recommended as the first-line drug for patients who had not received it within the last 6 months. The policy was communicated to all staff in meetings and a drugs guide bulletin and reinforced by ward pharmacists. Results over a 15 month period show voluntary compliance by prescribers with the recommended policy. One hundred and seventy-four patients (22% cardiac admissions) presented with acute myocardial infarction. Of these 43 (25%) received streptokinase, the first-line recommended drug, 7 received alteplase and none received anistreplase. The savings in drug expenditure from using streptokinase rather than alteplase or anistreplase for the 15-month period of investigation were over pounds 27,000. This work represents an example of the effectiveness of the Riverside East FMS model in influencing prescribing behaviour.
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