Prescribing trends and indications of antipsychotic medication in Hong Kong from 2004 to 2014: General and vulnerable patient groups

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2017 Nov;26(11):1387-1394. doi: 10.1002/pds.4244. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Purpose: Antipsychotic-prescribing patterns remain unclear in Asia. The aims of our study were to investigate prescribing trends of antipsychotic medication in the general population, children, and older patients by drug generation (first or second), the prescribing trend in pregnant women, the probable indication for antipsychotic prescription, and the prescribing trend by dosage form.

Methods: This descriptive study identified and included all patients prescribed with antipsychotic in Hong Kong from 2004 to 2014 using the Clinical Data Analysis and Report System. This study calculated and reported the prevalence of antipsychotic prescribing in patient groups of interest, the percentage with diagnoses of mental disorders were derived, and the prevalence of antipsychotic by dosage forms.

Results: The study included 10 109 206 prescriptions of any antipsychotics to 256 903 patients. Over the study period, the prevalence of antipsychotic prescribing increased from 1.06% to 1.54% in the general population, from 0.10% to 0.23% in children (3-17 years old), and from 2.61% to 3.26% in older patients (≥65 years old). The prevalence of second-generation antipsychotics increased, but the prevalence of first-generation antipsychotics did not. Prevalence of antipsychotic prescribing in prepregnancy, pregnancy, and postpartum timeframes varied from 0.18% to 0.38%. The percentage of incident prescriptions with a diagnosis of psychosis decreased from 54.1% to 47.5%.

Conclusions: Antipsychotics have been increasingly prescribed in the general population, children, and older patients. There is an increase in second-generation antipsychotic prescribing. Over half of incident users had a recent diagnosis of a nonpsychotic mental disorder in 2014, suggesting that off-label prescribing of antipsychotics might be common.

Keywords: antipsychotic; children; elderly; pregnancy; prescribing trend; prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Off-Label Use
  • Postpartum Period
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Dosage Forms