Prescribing patterns of benzodiazepines : a comparative study between two provinces in South Africa
Visser, Christoffel Dawid
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Background: In 2007 the population density for the Gauteng Province was 614 persons per km2 and in the Northern Cape Province it was 2.9 persons per km2 . High population density leads to an increase in crime. This was evident in the percentage distribution of total crime reported from 2000 to 2003 of 27.4% in Gauteng Province, while the percentage distribution of total crime reported in the Northern Cape for the same period of time was 2,8%. Stress and insomnia can be caused by crime which is influenced by population density. Crime and high population density, may cause stress and fear, which may lead to insomnia and anxiety, which in turn may lead to an increase in benzodiazepine usage. Objective: The general objective of this study was to investigate the benzodiazepine usage in the private health care sector in South Africa based on age, sex, geographical areas, prescriber type and days between refills. Methods: The data were obtained from a medicine claims database of a pharmacy benefit management company covering the periods from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2006 and 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008. The statistical analysis was performed by making use of the Statistical Analysis System®. A drug utilisation review was performed. Results: Patients claiming benzodiazepines represented about 7.25% of all patients in total database in 2006 and 7.97% in 2008. Female patients claimed more benzodiazepines than male patients in both Gauteng (67.24% in 2006 & 67.36% in 2008 respectively) and Northern Cape Province (67.77% in 2006 & 67.70% in 2008 respectively). Patients aged 40 years to 65 years claimed the highest number of benzodiazepine items, while patients younger than 12 years claimed the lowest number of benzodiazepine items. The number of patients that claimed benzodiazepines in the Northern Cape was lower than those in Gauteng. The percentage of patients that claimed benzodiazepines in 2006 was 7.91% in Gauteng versus 8.96% in Northern Cape. In 2008 the percentage of patients that claimed benzodiazepines was 8.47% in Gauteng versus 9.51% in Northern Cape. The percentage of benzodiazepine prescriptions claimed in Gauteng was 4.79% in 2006 and 5.10% in 2008. In the Northern Cape the percentages of benzodiazepine prescriptions claimed in 2006 and 2008 were 4.62% and 4.30% respectively. General medical practitioners prescribed most of the benzodiazepine prescriptions in both Northern Cape and Gauteng Province. Trade name products that were mostly prescribed in the Gauteng was Adco–Alzam® 0.5 mg and in the Northern Cape it was Brazepam® 3 mg for both 2006 and 2008. Conclusion: The difference in the prescribing patterns of benzodiazepines in Gauteng and the Northern Cape was not statistically significant. Recommendations for future research were made.
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