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GPs stuck in a rut when prescribing antidepressants

10 July 2008

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A new study has shown that GPs may be taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach to those suffering from depression when it comes to prescribing antidepressant medication.

The research, published in Management Science, monitored the patterns of antidepressant drugs prescriptions in 108 GPs over a three-year period.

More than 9,000 prescriptions were filed, which identified a third of GPs as “responsive” prescribers who took into account their patients’ specific needs, and 60% as “inertial” prescribers who did not necessarily make fully informed decisions.

The findings suggest that inertial physicians stopped paying attention to new research findings once they opt for a specific brand and persistently prescribe a few chosen drugs even when facing different patients who might have different needs.

Responsive prescribers appeared to try to match therapies to symptoms and are in regular contact with pharmaceutical companies to stay abreast of drug developments.

“This has important implications for patients and health policy,” said Dr Catarina Sismeiro of Imperial College London’s Tanaka Business School, which carried out the research. “Our preliminary study suggests that inertial GPs could prescribe less suitable treatments because of their habit persistence.

“As a consequence of inertial prescribing, some GPs may not be offering the most suitable or efficacious treatment.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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