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Keywords:

  • schizophrenia;
  • medication;
  • prescription survey;
  • polypharmacy;
  • second-generation antipsychotics

Background and Objective

Pharmacological treatment of schizophrenic patients in Japan is characterized by polypharmacy with high doses of antipsychotics. In this study, we examined the profiles of antipsychotic drug therapy in 2007 and 2009 to determine if there have been any recent shifts in treatment strategy.

Method

The subjects were schizophrenic inpatients (ICD-10-F20) admitted to 100 hospitals in 2007 and 152 hospitals in 2009. Information on the psychotropic agents prescribed on specified days in November 2007 and 2009 was acquired for each patient.

Results

Although no changes were observed in the rate of antipsychotic medications being prescribed, the rate of antipsychotic monotherapy in 2009 increased significantly. In 2007, among 15,761 patients, 4977 (31.6%) received antipsychotic monotherapy (i.e., administration of a single antipsychotic medication). In 2009, among 22,911 patients, 7741 (33.8%) received antipsychotic monotherapy.

Conclusion

The rate of use of antipsychotic monotherapy has gradually increased, although the total dose has not changed significantly. The increase in the concomitant use of two or more second-generation antipsychotics is a recent trend in Japan, despite the lack of information on the efficacy and safety of this treatment strategy. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.