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Service Use and Costs of Treating Schizophrenia With Atypical Antipsychotics

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(10):749-756

Background: The high acquisition cost of the atypical antipsychotics has prompted their closer clinical and economic evaluation. This study aims to examine the financial implications of using atypical antipsychotics in a defined catchment area sample of patients with schizophrenia.

Method: Service costs over a 10-month period were compared between groups of patients fulfilling DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia who were taking different atypical antipsychotic agents.

Results: All patients studied were taking clozapine (N = 31), risperidone (N = 19), or olanzapine (N = 41). Clozapine was used in more chronic patients, while risperidone and olanzapine were prescribed in both chronic and recently diagnosed cases. After background group differences were controlled for, patients on risperidone treatment incurred the lowest costs. The monthly costs for the clozapine and olanzapine groups were higher than for risperidone by US $246 and US $566, respectively.

Conclusion: Clozapine was reserved for more severe forms of schizophrenia, but its cost impact was relatively low. Risperidone, as prescribed in ordinary practice, may be more cost-effective than olanzapine.