What Are the Different Types of Drug Utilization Review?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Drug utilization review falls into three categories defined as prospective, concurrent, and retrospective. These reviews occur before a medication is prescribed by a physician, during the patient’s use of the drug, and after the patient uses it. Drug utilization review allows evaluation of patient care and measures the effectiveness of certain medications for each individual patient. Issues about a particular drug or individual patient might be uncovered in these reviews.

Before a medication is prescribed, a pharmacist might work with a doctor to determine the patient’s health history and what drugs the doctor plans to prescribe. The pharmacist might identify problems with the intended treatment before a prescription is written. Using computer programs, a pharmacist might find adverse interactions among different medications used by the patient.

He or she might also see indications of drug abuse if a patient visits multiple doctors to obtain several prescriptions of similar medications. A pharmacist can analyze the intended dosage of each drug and whether the treatment might be effective or harmful to the patient. During the evaluation, a pharmacist considers the patient’s age, any allergies, and whether the patient is pregnant or breast feeding.


Concurrent drug utilization review continues while the patient uses a medication. The pharmacist monitors potential interactions among different drugs used by each patient and reports any ill effects to the prescribing doctor. He or she also evaluates whether the patient is using the medication properly and according to directions. Computer records will show if a patient is receiving multiple prescriptions from more than one physician as duplicate treatment or indications of drug abuse.

Pharmacists might recommend a change in dosage or consultation with the patient if medication is being used improperly. They might also determine the drug is not appropriate for the condition being treated. A concurrent drug utilization review typically occurs while a patient is in a hospital or other care center where multiple drugs are disbursed.

The retrospective drug utilization review looks for prescription patterns written by individual doctors or used by certain patients. A pharmacist might intervene to prevent incidents of inappropriate use of medication or signs of drug abuse. These reviews might help patients receive more effective drugs tailored to their individual health issues.

Some governments require drug utilization review when public funds pay for medical treatment of low-income citizens. Goals include keeping costs down by ensuring medication is effective for a particular ailment, descreasing the number of unnecessary prescriptions, and encouraging the use of generic drugs when appropriate. These reviews might also protect patients from drug interactions and ensure they receive the right medication during treatment.


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