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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2018 Apr;28(3):192-204. doi: 10.1089/cap.2017.0054. Epub 2017 Nov 13.

Psychotropic Drug Prescription in Adolescents: A Retrospective Study in a Swiss Psychiatric University Hospital.

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1 Unit of Pharmacogenetics and Clinical Psychopharmacology, Department of Psychiatry, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience, Lausanne University Hospital , Hospital of Cery, Prilly-Lausanne, Switzerland .
2 School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Geneva, University of Lausanne , Geneva, Switzerland .
3 University Service for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital , Lausanne, Switzerland .



This retrospective study aims to evaluate off-label prescriptions and administrations of psychotropic medications in adolescents in a university psychiatric hospital in Switzerland.


Data were collected during the entire stays from the electronic database for 76 inpatients in 2008 and 76 inpatients in 2014. Data collected included gender, age, psychiatric diagnosis, duration of hospitalization, and psychotropic drug prescriptions and administrations.


A total of 224 psychotropic drugs (mean 2.9 drugs/patient) were prescribed in 2008 and 268 (mean 3.5 drugs/patient) in 2014. Due to the prescriptions of some drugs as required, only 76% of the prescriptions were actually administered in 2008 (mean 2.3 drugs/patient) and 55% in 2014 (mean 1.9 drugs/patient). Antipsychotics were the most frequently prescribed drugs in 2008 (74% of patients) and 2014 (86% of patients). Anxiolytics were also highly prescribed in 2008 (54% of patients) and 2014 (66% of patients), as well as antidepressants in 2008 (30% of patients), but less in 2014 (13% of patients). Overall, 69% of prescriptions were found to be off label in 2008 and 68% in 2014, according to age, diagnosis, dose, or formulation as approved by Swissmedic. The medication classes with the highest rate of off-label prescriptions were antidepressants (100% for both years), antipsychotics (94% in 2008 and 92% in 2014), and hypnotics (67% in 2008 and 100% in 2014). For both study periods, at least one off-label psychotropic drug prescription and administration was recorded in 96% and 79% of the patients, respectively.


The high rate of off-label psychotropic drug use strengthens the need for clinical trials to better evaluate the efficacy and safety of these treatments in adolescents.


Switzerland; adolescents; hospital; off-label use; psychotropic drugs


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