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Inpatient drug utilization in Europe: nationwide data sources and a review of publications on a selected group of medicines (PROTECT project).Drug utilization (DU) studies in inpatient settings at a national level are rarely conducted. The main objective of this study was to review the general information on hospital medicine management in Europe and to report on the availability and characteristics of nationwide administrative drug consumption databases. A secondary objective was to perform a review of published studies on hospital DU of a group of selected drugs, focusing on methodological characteristics (ATC/DDD). General information on hospital drug management was retrieved from several websites, nationwide administrative drug consumption databases and reports published by governmental organizations. A PubMed search was conducted using keywords related to the selected group of drugs AND 'hospital drug utilization'. The data sources for hospital DU information varied widely and included 14 databases from 25 reviewed countries. Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden obtain information on inpatient DU at a national level from wholesalers/manufacturers. In Belgium, Italy and Portugal, drugs dispensed to patients in hospitals are registered at a national level. Data are freely available online only for Denmark and Iceland. From the PubMed search, of a total of 868 retrieved studies, only 13 studies used the ATC/DDD methodology. Although the number of DDD/100 bed-days was used in four studies, other units of measure were also used. The type of information provided for the inpatient sector allowed primarily for conducting DU research at an aggregated data level. The existence of national administrative structures to monitor hospital DU would contribute to promoting the rational use of medicines and improving the safety and quality of prescribing.