A study of patients in the Netherlands showed just 40% of patients prescribed with NSAIDs and at risk of upper-gastrointestinal (UGI) problems were also given treatment to protect against side-effects of the drug class.
Authors said the study highlighted the need to assess patient risk of UGI problems when prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs.
NSAIDs increase the risk of UGI toxicity, which can lead to serious complications such as peptic ulcers and UGI haemorrhage.
The team at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam analysed drug regimes for 50,126 NSAID users aged 50 years or over.
Correct prescription was identified as NSAID treatment with a preventive strategy for UGI problems if the patient had one or more risk factors, or the lack of preventive treatment if no risk factors were present.
Patients were deemed to have been under-prescribed if they had risk factors but were not prescribed preventive therapy, and over-prescribed treatment if they were given preventive treatment but did not present with risk factors.
Between 1996-2006, researchers found correct prescriptions rose from 6.9% to 39.4%.
Over-prescription rose from 2.9% to 12.3% in this time.