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The effect of COVID-19 pandemic on benzodiazepine prescribing: preliminary results (BENZOVID study)

  • At: PPR SIG 2021 (2021)
  • Type: Digital
  • By: BUžANčIć, Iva (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Croatia)
  • Co-author(s): Bužančić Iva, Pejaković Tajana Iva, Ortner-Hadžiabdić Maja
  • Abstract:

    Introduction

    Prolonged use of benzodiazepines is linked to unfavourable outcomes, including tolerance, dependence, memory impairment and psychomotor retardation. It is expected that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on mental health which could lead to increased prescribing and use of benzodiazepines. Community pharmacist’s role in safe use of medicine is to recognise potential overuse, educate patients, collaborate with prescribers, and suggest deprescribing as a mean to combat inappropriate use.

    Objectives

    To compare benzodiazepine dispensing between the COVID-19 pandemic period and the pre-pandemic period in a community pharmacy in Croatia.

    Methods

    A retrospective cohort study of benzodiazepine prescriptions was performed in a community pharmacy in Zagreb, Croatia. Dispensing data was collected for patients who filled-out two or more prescriptions for benzodiazepines, prescribed for anxiety disorders during the period of COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020.-March 2021.) and preCOVID-19 (April 2019.-March 2020.) period. Collected data, included: age, sex, number of medicines, type of benzodiazepines, and comorbidities. Patients prescribed antidepressants, antipsychotics, or anticonvulsives alongside benzodiazepines were excluded

    Results

    170 patients were identified and 91 were included (54.2%). 68.1% were female (median age 66 (IQR 57-72)), 51.6% used more than five medicines, 56.0% were older than 65 years, 29.7% had more than five comorbidities, and 37.4% used two or more different benzodiazepines concomitantly. In the COVID-19 cohort 28.4% new patients were identified. Most commonly used benzodiazepines were diazepam (41.8%) and alprazolam (17.6%). No statistically significant differences were found between cohorts in age, sex, type of benzodiazepines, or number of medicines. One third of patients (30.8%) used benzodiazepines for more than four consecutive months during the COVID-19 period.

    Conclusion

    Preliminary results show an increase in number of patients who started using benzodiazepines during COVID-19. Pharmacist should focus on early identifying potential deprescribing candidates, especially in vulnerable patients groups, such as elderly patients, patients with polypharmacy or patients using potentially inappropriate medicines.

Last update 4 October 2019

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