PURPOSE: To investigate whether general practitioners, hospital physicians and specialized practitioners in psychiatry have similar preferences for initiating treatment with expensive serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). METHODS: All first-time prescriptions for the SSRIs escitalopram, citalopram and sertraline reported to the Danish National Register of Medicinal Product Statistics from April 1, 2009 until March 31, 2010 were analysed with regard to treatment naivety and type of prescriber. A prescription was considered as first time if the patient had not received a prescription for the same drug within the last 2 years. Patients who had not received a prescription for an antidepressant within 6 months prior to the date of redemption were classified as treatment-naïve. RESULTS: We included 82,702 first-time prescriptions, 65,313 (79 %) of which were for treatment-naïve patients. Of the treatment-naïve patients, 19 % were initially prescribed escitalopram. Hospital physicians prescribed escitalopram to 34 % of their treatment-naïve patients, while practitioners specialized in psychiatry prescribed it to 25 %, and general practitioners prescribed it to 17 %. General practitioners, however, were responsible for initiating 87 % of all treatment-naïve patients. CONCLUSION: The most expensive SSRI, escitalopram, is prescribed as first choice to one in five patients receiving their first antidepressant of escitalopram, citalopram or sertraline. General practitioners made the bulk of all first-time SSRI prescriptions to treatment-naïve patients.
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2013, Vol 69, Issue 5, p. 1167-1171