This study aimed at describing the type and dosage of psychopharmaceuticals dispensed to patients with psychiatric disorders and to assess the percentage of patients treated with antipsychotics and antidepressants, the associated therapies, treatment adherence, and dosages used in individuals registered at the Psychiatric Disease Center (PDC), Regional Health Service of Ferrara.
The analysis focused on therapeutic programmes presented to the Department of Pharmacy of the University Hospital of Ferrara of 892 patients treated by the PDC (catchment area of 134605 inhabitants). All diagnoses were made according to International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9). The analysis focused on prescriptions from September 2007 to June 2009. Data on adherence to prescribed therapy have were processed by analysis of variance.
Among the patients 63% were treated with antipsychotics and 40% with antidepressants. Among patients receiving antipsychotics 92% used second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) whereas the remaining 8% used first generation antipsychotics (FGAs). Antipsychotic doses were lower than Daily Defined Dose (DDDs), and SGAs were often given with anticholinergics to decrease side effects. Mean adherence to antipsychotic therapy was 64%. Among antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were the most often prescribed, 55%. Dosages of these were within the limits indicated by the technical datasheet but higher than DDDs. Only 26% of patients underwent monotherapy. In antidepressants polytherapy, medication was associated with another antidepressant, 6% or with an antipsychotic, 51%. Mean adherence to the antidepressant therapy was 64%.
Patients treated with antipsychotics tend to use doses lower than DDDs. The opposite tendency was noted in patients treated with antidepressants. Only a small percentage of patients (14%) modified their neuroleptic therapy by increasing the dosage. On the contrary, patients treated with antidepressants mainly tended to reduce the doses of their drugs. This study highlights the tendency to follow combination therapies, prescribing SGAs together with anticholinergics in order to minimize extrapyramidal side effects or by combining two antidepressants. The study showed low adherence for both pharmaceutical therapies, which is typical in the setting of the analyzed diseases.