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About the Groningen Pharmlines Network

In 2017, the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy (GRIP) and Lifelines started the “PharmLines Initiative” to link the multidisciplinary data of the Lifelines Cohort Study to the medication data of the widely researched prescription database, IADB.nl. The aim of the PharmLines Initiative is to facilitate research on medical drug data in combination with the broad health and biobank data of Lifelines. The IADB.nl staff has invested in expanding the database to include pharmacies in the Lifelines regions and from September 1, 2018 the 2017 database covering approximately 1.5 million persons will be available for linkage. Researchers worldwide and from diverse disciplines can now apply for the unique use of these linked Lifelines and IADB.nl prescription data. A further initiative is the linkage of genetic data to enable pharmacogenetic research.

Prescription data from an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 adult Lifelines participants

Both Lifelines cohort data and IADB.nl database are linked at the patient level by Statistics Netherlands (Dutch: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek; CBS) as Trusted Third Party. Deterministic linkage is used on the basis of unique identifiable information. In a concordance study in 2017, the Lifelines database was restricted to all adults (≥18 years ) of whom baseline information was recorded. After linkage of the two databases the total overlap consisted of 45,000 adult Lifelines participants. As GRIP has invested in further expanding the IADB.nl database, it is expected that approximately 60,000 to 80,000 Lifelines participants will be linked, and that the majority of the Lifeline populations will be covered by the linkage in 2019.

New possibilities for multidisciplinary research projects

Linking available microdata from both databases enhances the possibilities for multidisciplinary scientific research. The prescription records of the IADB.nl database deliver detailed information about the medication, for example, the ATC code, date and quantity of dispensing and dosage of the administered drug. Even cost data of the drugs is available through the Z-index and tools are available to calculate the drug adherence rate. The IADB.nl database provides virtually complete medication records over almost 20 years (1994-2017), except for over the counter drugs and medication dispensed during hospitalization. Lifelines, on the other hand, has microdata on different topics from its field of healthy ageing, like health and disease, lifestyle, psycho-social status, work and sleep. Additionally, data on a large array of biomarkers, genetic data and data derived from physical measurements, like anthropometry, blood pressure, ECG and lung function tests are available for study. Combining these data offers new possibilities for unique research projects in the field of “real-world” assessment of personalized medicine and drug trajectories, risk factors for drug starting , dosing and drug adherence, preventive and therapeutic drug effects, drug safety regarding clinical as well as psycho-social endpoints, drug interactions, pharmacogenetics, drug rediscovery and pharmaco-economics.

The linked data from the Lifelines Cohort Study and IADB.nl database have already been used in a first study with the aim to assess the concordance of the self-reported medication use as collected by Lifelines with information of the prescription database IADB.nl (Sediq et al, 2018).

Application process

Researchers wanting to submit an application for the linked data must follow the procedure of data linkage from the PharmLines Initiative.

If you have any questions about this news item or if you want to receive more information about the possibilities of the PharmLines Initiative, please contact the Lifelines Research Office (research@lifelines.nl) or contact prof. Eelko Hak.