Access to new medications to treat schizophrenia
Between 1989 and 1997, the Food and Drug Administration approved four new-generation antipsychotic medications for use in the treatment of schizophrenia. This article examines factors associated with the use of new antipsychotic medications as compared with traditional antipsychotic medications from patient interviews, medical records, and a physician survey administered at schizophrenia treatment sites around the country as part of the Schizophrenia Care and Assessment Program. The following variables were significantly associated with a higher probability of receiving an atypical antipsychotic medication in multiple regression analysis at p < .05: female, younger age, younger age of onset, non-African American, having a higher Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale-Negative Syndrome subscale score. Some physician characteristics were statistically significant in the bivariate results but not in the multivariate analyses. Access to new atypical antipsychotic medications is dependent on more than clinical characteristics. In particular, barriers to access may exist for African Americans. Physician access to information about advances in drug therapies also may play a substantial role in the rate of diffusion of new medications.