This site is intended for health professionals only

More antipsychotic drugs 'going unused'

A study of 145 GP practices in England from 2004 to 2008 highlighted antipsychotic drugs as having the most notable difference in redemption rate compared to other drugs.

The report, Prescribing Compliance, a review of the proportion of prescriptions dispensed, compares prescriptions written by GPs and other practice staff against those dispensed by pharmacists - giving a 'redemption rate' and examining if patients pick up the medication they are prescribed.

It suggests that most prescriptions are redeemed by patients, although the mean average redemption rate for all prescribing across the practices fell slightly; from 99.6% in 2004 to 98.5% in 2008. The decrease may be due in part to improved recording systems in GP practices.

The study examined the redemption rate for 19 groups of medication within the 145 practices, and if there was any link to deprivation or age.

The study looked at three age groups: elderly patients (aged 60 and over); and young patients (aged 16 and under) - both of which are exempt from paying for prescriptions - and those who do not fall into either group.

Generally, GP practices with a large proportion of prescriptions for elderly patients had the highest redemption rate, while practices with a large proportion of prescriptions for young patients had the lowest.

NHS Information Centre Chief Executive, Tim Straughan, said:

“The study suggests that, in the main, patients are redeeming their prescriptions - but there appears to be a lower redemption rate for antipsychotic prescriptions.

“A patient may not redeem their prescription for several reasons; such as deciding they don't need the medication or a reluctance to take a drug they have had side-effects from previously. A patient may have lost their prescription or obtained their medication through another source, such as during a stay in hospital.

“The cost of prescriptions may also be a factor, although it is worth noting that another NHS IC report shows that only about one in 20 prescriptions are paid for by the patient.”

Prescribing Compliance