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February 12, 1973

Tranquilizer Control

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1973;223(7):798. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220070052017

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To the Editor.—  The paper on tranquilizer control by Kaufman et al (221:1504, 1972) raised some interesting questions of methodology and interpretation. A somewhat similar report was made at this year's meeting of the American Psychiatric Association by Drs. Keeler and McCurdy who observed what happened when selected minor tranquilizers were banned from use in a state Medicaid program. In that case, about 35% of prescriptions were replaced by increased use of barbiturates and phenothiazines, but 65% were not replaced by any drugs. The implication behind both these studies is that there is extensive overuse of minor tranquilizers among patients. Yet neither paper produced any evidence to support this contention.In the study by Dr. Kaufman and colleagues, the number of prescriptions for tranquilizers before "control" was instituted was 278 in an estimated patient-contact load of 3,000 in the two-month period. This means that 1 of every 11 patient contacts