Current prescription pattern of maintenance treatments for bipolar patients in Korea: A focus on the transition from acute treatments

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Aims:We examined prescription patterns in maintenance treatment for recovered bipolar patients and compared these with acute treatments.Methods:Using retrospective methods, the bipolar patients in clinical recovery (Clinical Global Impression Bipolar Version score ≤ 2 for 6 months) after acute episode were selected. We reviewed differences between prescription patterns at remission and after a maintenance period of at least 6 months.Results:A total of 340 bipolar disorder patients were selected. During the maintenance period, more than half of the patients (192, 56.5%) took a mood stabilizer (MS) + antipsychotic (AP) combination. Among the MS, valproate (149, 43.8%) was most prescribed, and lithium (98, 28.8%) was second, but as patients moved into maintenance treatment, lithium use decreased, and the use of lamotrigine (86, 25.3%) increased. Preferred AP were quetiapine (125, 36.8%), aripiprazole (67, 19.7%), risperidone (48, 14.1%), and olanzapine (39, 11.5%). The use of olanzapine in maintenance was greatly decreased compared with that during acute treatment (67, 19.7%). Most patients did not take an antidepressant (AD), but the proportion using one or more AD was increased during maintenance (17.9% to 30.3%), and bupropion (28, 8.2%) was the preferred AD. Doses were decreased in all drugs, but lamotrigine was maintained at a dose of 133.2 ± 68.5 mg/day.Conclusions:The most common prescription combination for bipolar maintenance treatment was MS + AP. The use of AP was decreased, whereas the use of AD in combination with MS and/or AP was increased. The doses of MS and AP were generally decreased during the maintenance periods, with the exception of lamotrigine.

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