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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 57 (2015) 3, 161 - 170

New research

Comparison between the regions of Belgium with regard to the amounts of antipsychotics prescribed during the period 2004-2012: a national survey

M. Morrens, G. Dom

background Antipsychotics are prescribed frequently to treat a wide range of psychiatric and non-psychiatric indications. Over the last few years there has been a marked increase in the use of antipsychotics. However, specific prescribing patterns seem to be determined mainly by regional and national differences.
aim In this study we compare developments in the sales of antipsychotics in the three Belgian regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) between 2004 and 2012.
method For our study we used data supplied by Pharmanet regarding the sales of their antipsychotics in Belgium. Pharmanet forms part of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (riziv), which is the organisation responsible for collecting information about the prescription behaviour of Belgian doctors.
results Between 2004 and 2012 the sales of antipsychotics in Belgium increased by 57 %. Nevertheless, the low percentage of prescriptions for long-term use (6.6-8.7 % of the antipsychotics prescribed for a treatment period of six months or longer) suggests that several important groups of patients were being undertreated. Relative to the size of the population of Belgium as a whole, more antipsychotics were sold in Wallonia and Brussels than in Flanders, a trend that remained relatively stable over time, namely over the period 2004 and 2012. The preference for second-generation antipsychotics was more pronounced in Flanders and the shift to second-generation antipsychotics occurred faster in Flanders than in Wallonia and Brussels.
conclusion In Belgium there seems a clear need for a more unified and rational policy with regards to the prescribing and use of psychotropic drugs.

keywords antipsychotics, Belgium, prescription behavior, regions, undertreatment