Trends in the access to and the use of antipsychotic medications and psychotropic co-treatments in Asian patients with schizophrenia
Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci
To date, antipsychotics remain the mainstay of treatment for schizophrenia and related disorders although other psychotropic medications and non-pharmaceutical interventions have been used adjunctively in some patients and settings. Regular surveys on access to and prescription patterns of psychotropic medications in clinical practice are an important and efficient way of examining the use and time trends of treatments in a given population and region. Unlike developed Western countries, Asian countries have not fully undergone deinstitutionalisation of the severely and chronically mentally ill, and community-based mental health services are still under-developed. As a result, a large number of psychiatric patients still receive treatments in psychiatric hospitals. Moreover, there have been very limited studies examining access to and prescription patterns of psychotropic medications for schizophrenia patients in Asian countries. In this paper, we focus on the only international project on the use of psychotropic medications in schizophrenia patients in selected East and Southeast Asian countries/territories summarising its major findings. Most of the first- and second-generation antipsychotics (FGAs and SGAs) are available in Asian countries, but the access to psychotropic medications is largely affected by socio-cultural and historical contexts, health insurance schemes, health care policy, medication cost and consumers' preference across different countries/territories. Overall, the proportional use of FGAs, high dose antipsychotic treatment and antipsychotic polypharmacy have decreased, while the use of SGAs and antidepressants have increased and the utilisation of benzodiazepines and mood stabilisers has remained relatively stable over time. However, within these general trends, there is great inter-country variation regarding the psychotropic prescribing patterns and trends in Asian schizophrenia patients that also seems to differ from data in many Western countries.
School of Medicine