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Nemeroff CB, Kalali A, Keller MB, et al. Impact of Publicity Concerning Pediatric Suicidality Data on Physician Practice Patterns in the United States. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(4):466–472. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.64.4.466
IMS Health Inc data presented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 13 and 14, 2004, at a joint meeting of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee and the FDA's Pediatric Advisory Committee suggested that the number of children and teenagers who were prescribed antidepressants continued to increase in 2004, despite widespread publicity surrounding 2 FDA advisories regarding the potential for pediatric suicidality with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use. These results are contradictory to findings from the Medco Health Solutions, Inc, March 2004 analysis of pharmacy benefit claims and a separate subsequent analysis conducted by NDC Health using dispensing data from March 31, 2004, through June 30, 2005.
To investigate the contradictory findings and provide additional analyses on the prescribing trends of antidepressants across age groups and physician specialties in the United States.
Retail pharmacy prescription data and physician audit data were obtained from Verispan, a joint venture between Quintiles Transnational and McKesson. In addition to examining prescribing trends, a joinpoint regression analysis was conducted to identify the timing for significant changes in prescription use.
The analyses suggest that the number of children and teenagers who were prescribed antidepressants has decreased significantly (P = .02) in the wake of widespread publicity surrounding the FDA public health advisories. Another impact of the advisories seems to be a shift in care from “generalists” to psychiatric specialists when it comes to prescribing antidepressants to patients younger than 18 years. Finally, the analyses highlight a slight shift in prescribing toward the non–selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor bupropion hydrochloride, even though it carries the same FDA “black box” warning as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
The effect on antidepressant prescribing volume observed in our analysis of the Verispan data parallels earlier findings reported by Medco Health Solutions, Inc, and NDC Health that the FDA actions have had a significant effect on the prescribing of antidepressants to children and adolescents. Together, these findings underline the importance of presenting a fair balance within the media due to the significant reach of this channel among prescribing physicians.
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