Examination of Outpatient Prescribing Patterns for Anxiety Drugs

Bottom Line: Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) are a large class of drugs with lots of potential uses from treating anxiety to other conditions including insomnia, seizures and neuropathic pain. This study used nationally representative data to examine patterns in outpatient prescribing of benzodiazepines and included more than 386,000 ambulatory care visits from 2003 through 2015. The rate of ambulatory care visits where benzodiazepines were recorded nearly doubled over the time period from 3.8 percent to 7.4 percent. Primary care physicians accounted for about half of all visits with benzodiazepines. Authors suggest addressing prescribing patterns could help curb growing use of benzodiazepines amid increased benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths.

Authors: Sumit D. Agarwal, M.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and Bruce E. Landon, M.D., M.B.A., M.Sc., Harvard Medical School, Boston.

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