To study long-term prescriptions of hormone therapy (HT) in postmenopausal women, during a decade after the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), Steinkellner and colleagues  used a national pharmacy database from 2000 to 2009. Women who were 50 years and older at the start of the calendar year with continuous pharmacy benefits during the entire 12-month period were included in the study population for that year. The yearly study population varied from a low of 3,579,838 in 2000 to a high of 9,712,325 in 2009. The prevalence of HT use in each year’s study population dropped from 21.6% in the year 2000 to 8.8% in the year 2009. The sharpest decline occurred between 2001 and 2003 and then it remained relatively stable. Analysis of different age groups showed a maximum fall in the decade 65–74 years old.
In the year 2000, oral HT accounted for 19% of this 21.6% and then it went down to a prevalence of 4.8% in 2009. Transdermal estrogen, not very popular in the US, remained stable throughout this period of time – around 4%, and vaginal formulations increased from an annual incidence of 0.9% in the year 2000 to 1.7% in 2009.
High and standard doses showed a prevalence of 16.6% in 2000 and then declined very fast in 2003 and continued to run low till 2009 with a share of 2.4%. Low-dose preparations remained constant in the range of 2.3–2.5% during the study period.
At the beginning of this survey, the prevalence of women prescribed by GP/IM/FP (Family Practice/Internal Medicine/General Practice) was 9.9% and gynecologists contributed another 8.8%. At the end of the decade, the gynecologists became the main prescribers of HT, with a prevalence of 5.3%, whereas GP/IM/FP accounted for only 2.9%.
Roberto Ítalo Tozzini
Honorary Professor, National University of Rosario, Argentina
Steinkellner AR, Denison SE, Eldridge SL, Lenzi LL, Chen W, Bowlin SJ. A decade of postmenopausal hormone therapy prescribing in the United States: long-term effects of the Womens Health Initiative. Menopause 2012;19:616-21.