Nihon Arukoru Yakubutsu Igakkai zasshi = Japanese journal of alcohol studies & drug dependence

Prevention of overlapping prescriptions of psychotropic drugs by community pharmacists.

PMID 23393998


The nonmedical use or abuse of prescription drugs, including psychotropic medicines, is a growing health problem in Japan. Patient access to psychotropic drugs, specifically from the oversupply of medications due to overlapping prescriptions, may increase the risk of drug abuse and dependence. However, very little is known about such overlapping prescriptions. Today, the dispensing of prescriptions is generally moving from inside to outside of hospitals, with psychotropic drugs mainly dispensed at community pharmacies. In this study, we used health insurance claims (i.e., receipts) for dispensing as the main source of information in an investigation of overlapping prescriptions of psychotropic drugs. A total of 119 patients were found to have received overlapping prescriptions, as identified by community pharmacists who were members of the Saitama Pharmaceutical Association, using patient medication records, followed by medication counseling and prescription notes for the patient. According to our findings, the most frequently overlapping medication was etizolam. Etizolam can be prescribed for more than 30 days since it is not regulated under Japanese law as a "psychotropic drug." Generally, when a drug can be prescribed for a greater number of days, it increases the likelihood of an overlapping prescription during the same period. As a result, the long-term prescription of etizolam increases the risk of overlapping prescriptions. We also found that the patients who received overlapping prescriptions of etizolam were mostly elderly and the most common pattern was prescription from both internal medicine and orthopedics physicians. Etizolam has wide range of indications that are covered by health insurance. Our results suggest that patients who received overlapping prescriptions of etizolam may receive prescriptions from different prescribers for different purposes. Therefore, it may be appropriate to regulate etizolam as a "psychotropic drug" under Japanese law, thus setting a limit on the period for which it can be prescribed in order to help prevent long-term and overlapping prescriptions.

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