Antidepressant use falls in Medicare “donut hole”

Reuters.com: By Andrew M. Seaman

NEW YORK | Mon Jul 2, 2012 5:28pm EDT

(Reuters Health) – When some older Americans with Medicare drug coverage reach the point where they have to pay full price for medications, many just stop taking their antidepressants – raising their risk of depression relapses – according to a new study.

Researchers looking at the spending of some 22,000 Medicare beneficiaries with a depression diagnosis and “Part D” prescription drug benefits found the seniors’ use of antidepressants dropped by about 12 percent when they hit the so-called donut hole in drug coverage.

This coverage gap, which earlier research has shown leads seniors to drop heart, diabetes and other types of medications by about the same amount, “poses a serious risk” to those with depression, according to the report published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

“Beneficiaries with depression reduce their drug use, but it appears they reduce their antidepressants, heart medications and diabetic drugs similarly,” Yuting Zhang, the study’s lead author and a professor of health economics at the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters Health. Read More