Role of private prescriptions in the long‐term use of benzodiazepines and Z‐drugs: a patient‐related follow‐up study

2022 | journal article; research paper. A publication of Göttingen

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​Role of private prescriptions in the long‐term use of benzodiazepines and Z‐drugs: a patient‐related follow‐up study​
Grimmsmann, T. & Himmel, W. ​ (2022) 
Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, art. pds.5536​.​ DOI: 

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Grimmsmann, Thomas; Himmel, Wolfgang 
Purpose: To analyse (1) how often patients insured under the statutory health insurance (SHI) scheme received repeated prescriptions for benzodiazepines or Z-drugs as private prescriptions and (2) how often doctors switched from SHI prescriptions to private prescriptions and vice versa when issuing repeat prescriptions. Methods: On basis of anonymized prescriptions from 874 ambulatory practices in Germany, we analysed the percentage of private prescriptions for Z-drugs, benzodiazepines/anxiolytics, and benzodiazepines/hypnotics and sedatives over 6 years (2014 to 2020). Results: Of 2 200 446 prescriptions for a benzodiazepine or Z-drug, 38% were private prescriptions. In case of Z-drugs, the rate of private prescriptions was 44.1% for single prescriptions and 48.9% for refills. The difference was smaller for anxiolytics (23.3% vs. 26.0%) and, for benzodiazepine/hypnotics and sedatives, the proportion of private prescriptions for refills was even lower than for single prescriptions. In case of Z-drugs, the proportion of private prescriptions was, on average, 42.7% for the first prescription of a series of repeat prescriptions and 49.6% for the tenth prescription. The increase was smaller for anxiolytics and negligible for benzodiazepine/hypnotics and sedatives. Doctors stayed with their initial decision in more than three quarters of repeat prescriptions, be it a SHI or private prescription. Conclusion: While we observed a large number of private prescriptions for benzodiazepines and Z-drugs, the proportion was only slightly higher for refills than for single prescriptions. Doctors do not seem to issue private prescriptions as a strategy to mask especially long-term use of these substances. Keywords: ambulatory care; cohort studies; drug prescriptions; hypnotics and sedatives; physicians' practice patterns.
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Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety 
Institut für Allgemeinmedizin 
1053-8569; 1099-1557



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