Pharmacotherapy of schizophrenic patients: Preponderance of off-label drug use

David Pickar, Jessie Vinik, John J. Bartko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Multiple drug class combinations are often prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia, although antipsychotic monotherapy reflects FDA labeling and scientific justification for combinations is highly variable. This study was performed to gain current data regarding drug treatment of schizophrenia as practiced in the community and to assess the frequencies of off-label drug class combinations. 200 DSM IV-diagnosed schizophrenic patients recruited from community treatment sources participated in this cross-sectional study of community based schizophrenic patients. Drug class categories include First and Second Generation Antipsychotic drugs (FGA and SGA, respectively), mood stabilizers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. 25.5% of patients received antipsychotic monotherapy; 70% of patients received an antipsychotic and another drug class. A total of 42.5% of patients received more than one antipsychotic drug. The most common drug class combination was antipsychotic and a mood stabilizer. Stepwise linear discriminant function analysis identified the diagnosis of schizoaffective schizophrenia, history of having physically hurt someone and high scores on the General Portion of the PANSS rating scale predicted the combined use of an antipsychotic drug and a mood stabilizer. "Real world" pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia has developed its own established practice that is predominantly off-label and may have outstripped current data support. The economic implications for public sector payers are substantial as well as for the revenue of the pharmaceutical industry, whose promotion of off-label drug use is an increasingly problematic. These data are consistent with the recognition of the therapeutic limitations of both first and second generation antipsychotic drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3150
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 10 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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