Objective: This study examined changes in prescribing patterns of antipsychotic medications to treat schizophrenia.
Methods: Pharmacy records for patients with schizophrenia were obtained from Department of Veterans Affairs databases. The proportion of patients prescribed specific second-generation antipsychotics or any first-generation antipsychotic was calculated per year.
Results: In fiscal year (FY) 2006, 78,849 veterans with schizophrenia were prescribed antipsychotic medication. For FY 1999 to FY 2006 the percentage of patients with schizophrenia who received first-generation antipsychotics decreased from 40.8% to 15.9%, but the percentage receiving olanzapine, after peaking at 32.0% in FY 2001, decreased to 19.0%. The percentage of patients given quetiapine increased from 2.5% to 18.8%; risperidone, from 25.5% to 29.7%. However, clozapine usage remained flat, at 2.0%-3.0%. Use of then-new ziprasidone and aripiprazole rose from 5.0% to 9.0%.
Conclusions: Use of each antipsychotic newly marketed over eight years increased while use of risperidone was unchanged and use of olanzapine and the first-generation antipsychotics declined.