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Psychotropic medication prescribing during the COVID-19 pandemic

This study examined changes in psychotropic medication use associated with the early months of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Using Kaiser Permanente Northern California electronic health records, the authors identified adult patients with fills for psychotropic medications and a non-psychotropic comparator (statins) in the 13 weeks before and after the first-known COVID-19-related death in California (March 4, 2020). Generalized estimating equations were used to derive relative risk ratios (RRR) for medication fills compared with the prior year. Analyses were stratified by new and continued fills and patient characteristics. Among 2,405,824 patients, the mean (SD) age was 49.8 (17.9) years; 52.9% were female; 47.9% identified as White; 8.0% and 7.9% had anxiety and depression disorder diagnoses, respectively. Accounting for secular trends, in the 13 weeks following March 4, 2020, there were increased fills for trazodone (RRR = 1.03, 95% CI = 1.02, 1.04), decreased fills for benzodiazepines (RRR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.94, 0.96) and hypnotics (RRR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.96, 0.99), and stable fills for antidepressants (RRR = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.99, 1.00). Relative rates of new fills decreased across most medication classes and continued fills either remained stable or demonstrated non-clinically significant decreases. Patients aged ≥65 years demonstrated decreased fills for most medication classes. In the first 13 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, fills for most psychotropic medications remained constant or showed small changes relative to the previous year. Continued (compared with new) fills accounted for observed increases in some medication classes. Older adults demonstrated decreased fills of most medications.

Authors: Hirschtritt, Matthew E; Slama, Natalie; Sterling, Stacy A; Olfson, Mark; Iturralde, Esti

Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Oct 29;100(43):e27664.

PubMed abstract

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