Drug Can Reduce Cost of Treating Schizophrenia by $8,000 a Year

By Pauline Anderson
The Medical Post, October 22, 1996

TORONTO - Prescribing risperidone to treat schizophrenia can lead to significant cost savings by decreasing hospital admissions, length of stay and physician visits.

That's according to a new study headed by Dr. Penny Albright from Janssen-Ortho Inc., maker of the drug.

Even with an increased cost of antipsychotic medications, the study found almost $8,000 could be saved per patient per year by prescribing this newer generation antipsychotic.

Using a number of databases to amass information, researchers calculated various costs for treating 146 schizophrenia patients in Saskatchewan who had received at least one prescription for risperidone between July 1, 1993 and Dec. 31 1993.

Risperidone, a combined serotonin and dopamine antagonist, has been proven to have superior antipsychotic effects and appears to be particularly useful in controlling negative symptoms, according to authors of the study.

Initiation of risperidone therapy resulted in a reduction in health care utilization and hospital services. The study found a decrease of 60.3% in hospital admissions; 58.2% in length of hospital stay; and 22.3% in physician visits.

Using an estimated cost of hospitalization of $300 per day, the researchers calculated a cost saving of $8,730 per patient per year.

They also determined the cost savings was $277 per patient per year for physician services and $90 per patient per year for mental health services, for a total savings of $9,097.

These savings were somewhat offset by an overall increased medication cost of $1,172 ($1,129 for antipsychotic drugs alone), resulting in a net saving of $7,925 per patient per year following initiation of risperidone therapy.

Risperidone is listed in the Saskatchewan drug formulary under exception drug status, for the treatment of schizophrenia patients who are resistant to or intolerant of other medications.

Copyright 1996 Maclean Hunter Publishing Limited
Reprinted with permission.

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