The study objectives were to characterize the use of the antiemetic ondansetron, a serotonin subtype 3 receptor antagonist, in US academic medical centers, and to assess ondansetron prescribing with consensus-derived prescribing guidelines used as evaluation criteria.
A multicenter, prospective, observational study was conducted in the inpatient and outpatient care areas of 23 US academic medical centers. A total of 670 patients received ondansetron (508 inpatients and 162 outpatients). The use of ondansetron was compared with consensus-derived prescribing guidelines on the basis of indication for use and dose administered.
Only 253 (37.8%) of the 670 patients satisfied the prescribing guidelines for both indication for use and dose administered. The remainder of the patients did not satisfy the guidelines, in whole or in part. If all ondansetron use had met the prescribing guidelines in the patients studied, a reduction in ondansetron use of 31% (16 185/52 260 mg) would have been realized. At an estimated cost of $5 per milligram, this reduction represents a potential cost savings of nearly $81 000, or $121 per patient studied.
Since its introduction in 1991, ondansetron has become a commonly used antiemetic in US academic medical centers. Although ondansetron is safe and effective in improving patients' tolerance of emetogenic therapies, including cancer chemotherapy, its high cost has added a significant burden to the pharmaceutical budgets of many institutions. The study data suggest that compliance with ondansetron prescribing guidelines, with elimination of indiscriminant use, could result in significant cost savings.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:1733-1740)