Significance and Factors Associated with Antipsychotic Polypharmacy Utilization Among Publicly Insured US Adults


Marcela Horvitz-Lennon, Rita Volya, Katya Zelevinsky, Mimi Shen, Julie M Donohue, Andrew Mulcahy, and Sharon-Lise T Normand. 2021. “Significance and Factors Associated with Antipsychotic Polypharmacy Utilization Among Publicly Insured US Adults.” Adm Policy Ment Health.


Antipsychotic polypharmacy (APP) lacks evidence of effectiveness in the care of schizophrenia or other disorders for which antipsychotic drugs are indicated, also exposing patients to more risks. Authors assessed APP prevalence and APP association with beneficiary race/ethnicity and payer among publicly-insured adults regardless of diagnosis. Retrospective repeated panel study of fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare, Medicaid, and dually-eligible white, black, and Latino adults residing in California, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, or West Virginia, filling antipsychotic prescriptions between July 2008 and June 2013. Primary outcome was any monthly APP utilization. Across states and payers, 11% to 21% of 397,533 antipsychotic users and 12% to 19% of 9,396,741 person-months had some APP utilization. Less than 50% of person-months had a schizophrenia diagnosis and up to 19% had no diagnosed mental illness. Payer modified race/ethnicity effects on APP utilization only in CA; however, the odds of APP utilization remained lower for minorities than for whites. Elsewhere, the odds varied by race/ethnicity only in OK, with Latinos having lower odds than whites (odds ratio 0.76; 95% confidence interval 0.60-0.96). The odds of APP utilization varied by payer in several study states, with odds generally higher for Dual eligibles, although the differences were generally small; the odds also varied by year (lower at study end). APP was frequently utilized but mostly declined over time. APP utilization patterns varied across states, with no consistent association with race/ethnicity and small payer effects. Greater use of APP-reducing strategies are needed, particularly among non-schizophrenia populations.