Prescribing Trends of Benzodiazepine and other Sedatives in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Regional Health Administration between 2013 and 2020: A Retrospective Study
Keywords:Benzodiazepines, Drug Utilization/trends, Hypnotics and Sedatives, Off-Label Use, Portugal, Practice Patterns, Physicians/trends
Introduction: Among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development members, Portugal has the highest reported consumption of anxiolytics, hypnotics, and sedatives, of which a large proportion are benzodiazepines or related drugs. These are known to cause tolerance and dependence. Other drugs with hypnotic effect, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, or anticonvulsants have been identified by some reports as alternatives to benzodiazepines for the treatment of insomnia. In this regard, the aim of this study was to characterize the consumption of benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine anxiolytic, hypnotic or sedative effect drugs and other drugs with the potential to be used off-label to treat insomnia, and the results concerning benzodiazepine consumption related indicators in the primary health care setting in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region.
Material and Methods: From 2013 to 2020, a census, descriptive and retrospective study was conducted. The evolution of the variables total defined daily doses, defined daily doses per 1000 inhabitants per day (DHD) and relevant indicators were characterized. Data were extracted from the SIARS platform used in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley regional Health Administration.
Results: There was a decrease in the consumption of benzodiazepines (from 57.44 to 63.11 DHD) and an increase of non-benzodiazepines and of drugs with potential off-label use (from 6.56 to 8.56 DHD and from 14.70 to 25.95 DHD, respectively). Among non-benzodiazepines, zolpidem was the most consumed drug, also showing an increasing trend (from 4.86 to 6.96 DHD). For the group of drugs with off-label use potential, there was an increased consumption of trazodone (from 3.81 to 7.92 DHD), mirtazapine (from 3.52 to 6.48 DHD), pregabalin (from 3.15 to 4.87 DHD), quetiapine (from 2.68 to 4.59 DHD) and gabapentin (from 1.32 to 1.90 DHD), which was only the case (or, at least, more significantly) for the lower dose formulations. The median of results of the Primary Health Care setting indicator “proportion of elderly patients without prescription of sedatives, anxiolytics, and hypnotics”, was 81.0 in 2015 and increased to 84.9 in 2020. For the indicator “proportion of patients without prolonged prescription of sedatives, anxiolytics, and hypnotics”, the median was 93.6 in 2019 and 94.3 in 2020.
Conclusion: There was, overall, a decreasing trend in the dispensing of benzodiazepines in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region. Even though this data suggests a change in the therapeutic pattern for insomnia, more robust studies are needed to confirm this observation.
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