Changes in rates of upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage after the introduction of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors in British Columbia and Ontario
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BACKGROUND: Population rates of upper gastrointestinal (GI) hemorrhage have been observed to increase with the introduction and rapid uptake of selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors. Changes in COX-2 inhibitor use and upper GI bleeding rates in regions with relatively restrictive drug policies (e.g., British Columbia) have not been compared with changes in regions with relatively less restrictive drug policies (e.g., Ontario). METHODS: We collected administrative data for about 1.4 million people aged 66 years and older in British Columbia and Ontario for the period January 1996 to November 2002. We examined temporal changes in the prevalence of NSAID use and admissions to hospital because of upper GI hemorrhage in both provinces using cross-sectional time series analysis. RESULTS: During the period studied, the prevalence of NSAID use in British Columbia's population of older people increased by 25% (from 8.7% to 10.9%; p < 0.01), as compared with a 51% increase in Ontario (from 10.9% to 16.5%; p < 0.01). Hospital admissions because of upper GI hemorrhage increased significantly in Ontario by about 16% on average, or about 2 admissions per 10 000 elderly people, above expected values (p < 0.01). A similar increase was not observed in British Columbia. INTERPRETATION: More restrictive drug coverage policies, although limiting access to drugs and their potential benefits, may protect the population from adverse drug effects.
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