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Study finds high Rx burden for bipolar patients
Date:2/4/2014

A study of 230 patients with bipolar I disorder whose symptoms were severe enough to warrant admission to a Rhode Island psychiatric hospital in 2010 reveals that more than a third were there despite taking four or more psychiatric medications. Including medicines for other conditions, such as cardiometabolic diseases, the average patient came to the hospital taking six different drugs.

The study quantifies a difficult outcome for many patients with this difficult-to-treat disorder, said study lead author Lauren Weinstock of the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and of Butler Hospital, where the patients were admitted: They accrue a high burden of prescriptions each with their own side effects, with often unknown interactions, and with a complexity that can result in not taking the medications as prescribed. This medication burden also includes high overall cost to patients and the healthcare system.

Yet for those patients who've needed to come to the hospital, these complex combinations of drugs haven't proven sufficiently effective, Weinstock said.

The study, published online Feb. 1 in the journal Psychiatry Research, also reports the likelihood of a high medication burden was significantly greater for women than men.

"The high rate of complex polypharmacy reflects the enormous challenge of symptom management that we currently face for bipolar disorder," said Weinstock, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown. "Without many treatment alternatives, this is where we are as a field. It is important for us to advance science and treatment of bipolar disorder so that this medication burden can be minimized for our patients."

Weinstock, who studies psychotherapy as a complement to medical treatment at Butler, said she and her colleagues became motivated to quantify the pharmacological burden for those with biploar disorder after witnessing it anecdotally among patients.


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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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