Data resource profile: the Scottish national prescribing information system (PIS)

Samantha Alvarez-Madrazo, Stuart McTaggart, Clifford Nangle, Elizabeth Nicholson, Marion Bennie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
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Data Resource Basics: The Prescribing Information System (PIS) covers the prescribed,dispensed and reimbursed prescriptions in community pharmacies from the 5.3 million residents in Scotland. Summary information is available from 1993 and at an individual level from 2009 to the present. Data Collected: The raw data are generated by three data sources: ePrescribed -generated by GPs messages, eDispensed –generated by messages from community pharmacies and Reimbursed messages from scanned paper prescriptions dispensed in the community pharmacies. The four main categories of data collected are: (1) Patient-specific, (2) Prescriber, (3) Dispenser and (4) Drug-specific. PIS data can be linked via a unique identifier to other national databases, including hospital records, maternal and neonatal, the Scottish Cancer Registry and mortality records. The catalogue of databases is available in . Subject to approval of the data controllers other external datasets can also be linked. Data Resource Use: PIS has been used to describe the utilisation of several groups of drugs;factors influencing prescribing and evaluation of interventions to improve it; generation of polypharmacy guidelines; risk of side effects; monitoring of antibiotic use and generation of policy recommendations; associations between community prescription of antimicrobials and deprivation or infection; evaluation of prescription fee abolition; clinical effectiveness, safety and health technology assessment of drugs approved in the last decade. Reasons to be cautious: PIS does not capture information about diagnosis or indication for treatment, over the counter medicines, medicines administered during inpatient hospital stays, upon discharge for short term use, outpatient supplies or some specialist drugs for chronic use. Drug data is currently coded according to the British National Formulary. For longitudinal studies, patient level data is available from 2009 and the frequency of data collection from the three sources is different. Collaboration and data access: PIS data are available upon request to the electronic Data Research and Innovation Service ( and project approval by the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel. Funding and competing interests: This dataset is funded from the public monies available to the NHS. Current work to develop an improved PIS research ready analysis platform and this study is supported by the Farr Institute @ Scotland and its 10-funder consortium. The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-715f
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
Early online date10 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 May 2016


  • prescribing
  • dispensing
  • database
  • linkage
  • pharmacoepidemiology


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