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Med J Aust. 2011 Jun 20;194(12):631-4.

A therapeutic equivalence program: evidence-based promotion of more efficient use of medicines.

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Southern Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.



The development of an effective therapeutic equivalence program (TEP) through the collaborative support of medical staff, using the principles of disinvestment.


A TEP was introduced at Southern Health, a metropolitan health service in Melbourne, in the 2006-07 financial year. Therapeutic classes were selected for the TEP by stakeholder consensus, and a preferred medication for each class was selected on the basis of cost considerations and therapeutic equivalence. New patients were commenced on preferred medicines, but patients receiving another medicine from a therapeutic class included in the program were not automatically switched to the preferred medicine. For the first 4 years of the program, prescribing patterns were monitored, and savings achieved (due to lower prices for and increased use of preferred medicines) were calculated on a monthly basis.


Prescribing trends for preferred medicines, as a measure of acceptance of the TEP, and savings produced by the program.


Over the 4-year study period, 11 therapeutic classes were targeted. The use of all preferred medicines increased once they become part of the TEP and a total of $3.16 million was saved. The annual savings increased each year, and the rate of increase was six times that of the increase in patient separations.


The TEP at Southern Health resulted in significant savings. It showed that, by using a collaborative and evidence-based approach, the principles of disinvestment can be applied to use of medicines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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