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Drug Utilization Studies: Simple Definition


drug utilization studiesDrug Utilization Studies (DUS) is research done on how medicines are dispensed, prescribed, and used, especially with a view toward identifying problems. They may answer basic questions such as:

  • What medicines people are taking,
  • Why they are taking them,
  • How much they cost,
  • How people budget for them.

Drug utilization studies may also monitor changes in patterns of how various drugs are used, and they might also evaluate what happens when there are interventions (for instance, prohibitions or recommendations) which affect availability.

Drug utilization studies are important for policy makers and all those involved in forming drug policies, and they can give important information to medical professionals and researchers.

Areas Analyzed Through Drug Utilization Studies

Drug utilization studies look at three major areas:

  • Medical,
  • Social,
  • Economical.

In the medical sphere, they look at the benefits of drugs, and how efficient they are in preventing, relieving, and curing diseases. They also look at long and short term risks or adverse affects, and the benefit/risk ratio.

In the social sphere, drug utilization studies examine attitudes toward drugs and health as well as the basis for these attitudes. They look at the improper use of drugs, and drug abuse and dependence. Social injustice issues are also considered, including whether or not important drugs are available to all who need them.

In the economic sphere, drug utilization studies look into the costs of drugs and how that changes between generic or brand name products, or imports vs local products. They also might focus on such things as the way national resources are allocated to drug and health budgets.


Lee & Bergman. Studies of Drug Utilization. Chapter 24, Pharmacoepidemiology, Fifth Edition. Retrieved from on April 28, 2017

Mayall & Banerjee. Pharmacovigilance Planning, from Therapeutic Risk Management of Medicines, 2014. Retrieved from on April 28, 2017

Dukes, M. N. G., editor. Drug Utilization Studies: Methods and Uses. WHO Regional Publications, 1993. on April 29, 2018


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Drug Utilization Studies: Simple Definition was last modified: May 20th, 2018 by Stephanie