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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cost of antipsychotic polypharmacy in the treatment of schizophrenia

Baojin Zhu1*, Haya Ascher-Svanum1, Douglas E Faries1, Christoph U Correll2 and John M Kane2

Author Affiliations

1 Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

2 The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, New York, USA

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BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:19  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-19

Published: 4 April 2008

Abstract

Background

This study compared the costs of antipsychotic polypharmacy for patients who initiated on 1 of the 3 most commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotics – olanzapine, quetiapine, or risperidone.

Methods

Data were drawn from a large, prospective, naturalistic, multi-site, nonrandomized study of treatment for schizophrenia in the United States conducted between July 1997 and September 2003. Participants who were initiated on olanzapine (N = 405), quetiapine (N = 115), or risperidone (N = 276) were followed for 1 year post initiation and compared on: (a) average daily cost of the index antipsychotic while on the index antipsychotic, (b) average daily cost of the coprescribed antipsychotics while on the index antipsychotic, (c) average daily cost of the index antipsychotic and the coprescribed antipsychotics while on the index antipsychotic, (d) total annual cost of antipsychotic medications prescribed in the year following initiation on the index antipsychotic, using propensity score-adjusted bootstrap resampling method. Average daily antipsychotic costs and total annual antipsychotic costs were also estimated using more recent (2004) antipsychotic drug prices.

Results

During the 1 year following initiation on the index antipsychotic, the total average daily cost of the index antipsychotic was higher for quetiapine ($15.33) than olanzapine ($13.90, p < .05) and risperidone ($11.04, p < .01), although the average daily cost of the index antipsychotic was higher for olanzapine ($10.08) than risperidone ($6.74, p < .01) or quetiapine ($6.63, p < .01). Lower total average daily costs were observed in risperidone than olanzapine or quetiapine. Significantly lower average daily cost of concomitant antipsychotic medications for olanzapine ($3.82) compared to quetiapine ($8.70, p < .01) or risperidone-initiated patients ($4.30, p < .01) contributed to the lower average daily cost of all antipsychotic medication for olanzapine-initiated patients. Each dollar spent on the index antipsychotic was accompanied by spending an additional $1.31 on concomitant antipsychotics for quetiapine compared to $0.64 for risperidone and $0.38 for olanzapine-initiated patients. A separate intent-to-treat analysis of the total annual antipsychotic cost found a significantly higher total annual antipsychotic cost for quetiapine-initiated patients ($5320) compared to olanzapine ($4536, p < .01) or risperidone ($3813, p < .01).

Conclusion

Prevalent antipsychotic polypharmacy adds substantial cost to the treatment of schizophrenia. Comparison of medication costs need to address the costs of all antipsychotics. A better understanding of concomitant antipsychotic costs provides a more accurate portrayal of antipsychotic medication costs in the treatment of schizophrenia.