Diversity versus concentration in antipsychotic drug selection

Douglas Leslie, Robert A. Rosenheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: It is unknown to what extent providers utilize the full range of available antipsychotic agents, or tend to prescribe just a few with which they are familiar. Aims of the Study: This study uses the Herfindahl index to measure the degree to which antipsychotic prescribing is diverse or concentrated within medical centers in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Methods: Patients with schizophrenia who received prescriptions for antipsychotic medications from the Department of Veterans Affairs in fiscal year 2005 were identified. For each facility, the proportion of prescriptions that were written for each antipsychotic medication was computed. The Herfindahl index, which is defined as the sum of the square of the proportionate shares of each medication (i.e., 50% squared = 0.25), was computed for each facility, and its distribution across facilities was examined. Results: We identified 785,485 prescriptions for antipsychotic medications across 76,787 patients within 128 facilities. With 7 drugs to choose from (first-generation antipsychotics were not differentiated as separate drugs), the Herfindahl could range from 0.14 (if the drugs were prescribed equally) to 1 (if only 1 drug was prescribed to all patients). The Herfindahl averaged 0.20 to 0.21 and ranged from 0.16 to 0.31 across facilities. Discussion: The Herfindahl index is a useful metric for describing the degree to which providers use a range of antipsychotic medications in treating patients with schizophrenia and suggests that VA facilities use a diversity of agents, thus taking advantage of the potentially unique drug-patient matches. Implications for Health Care Provision: The extent to which providers tailor their choice of antipsychotic medication to the particular characteristics of the patient may lead to better quality of care. Implications for Health Policies: The fact that providers do use a range of antipsychotic medications suggests that formulary policies should not reduce access to these drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2008

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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