The administration of more than one drug for a single medical condition is considered to be polypharmacy. There are many possible reasons for polypharmacy: (1) psychosis is a chronic disease that cannot be cured; (2) expectations to improve patients quality of life beyond what drugs can actually do is high; (3) the lack of side effects and interactions can cause physicians to be more daring in terms of potential complications; (4) information from the Internet may cause patients and their families to demand medications; (5) the diluted mental health system allows legal guardians and other mental health professionals to force physicians to provide multiple drugs; (6) many new drugs are available; and (7) physicians are forced to shorten hospitalization days. The 1997 American Psychiatric Association Practice Research Network found that 17% of 146 patients with schizophrenia were treated concurrently with more than one antipsychotic medication. Polypharmacy may increase the risk of adverse effects, drug interactions, noncompliance, and medication errors. It is not wise to use polypharmacy only to prevent side effects and drug and interactions. Our attempts to reduce polypharmacy may fail, as academicians also propagate polypharmacy, and all of the algorithms indicate polypharmacy as an option, putting physicians in a legal and ethical bind. Techniques such as experimental ward, peer review, computer information feedback, and comparing different techniques may temporarily reduce polypharmacy but long-term outcome is not affected. Scientific data on the efficacy of polypharmacy is needed in order to sort out good and bad polypharmacy.
Keywords: prevalence of antipsychotic polypharmacy, increasing use of polypharmacy, current data on polypharmacy, efficacy of polypharmacy, side effects of polypharmacy
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