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Study,Feb/22:Effects of COVID on dispensing rates of antidep. & benzos in Canada


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The full title of this Canadian study is "The effects of COVID-19 on the dispensing rates of antidepressants and benzodiazepines in Canada".






Background: Population studies have shown that rates of depressive and anxious symptoms have increased as a result of COVID-19. We analyzed trends in the dispensing rates of antidepressants and benzodiazepines in Canada to determine whether the pandemic has caused changes in rates of pharmacological treatment for depression and anxiety.


Methods: We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional time-series analysis of antidepressants and benzodiazepines dispensed monthly by Canadian community pharmacies between January 2017 and December 2020. We used March 2020 as the intervention month to determine if there were any significant changes in the national rate of antidepressant and benzodiazepine tablets dispensed as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Results: There was a temporary reduction in the dispensing rate of antidepressants in April 2020 (from 489 tablets per 100 in March 2020 to 356 tablets per 100 in April 2020; p ≤ .0001); however, the rate returned to its previous level by August 2020. There were no detectable deviations in benzodiazepine dispensing after the declaration of the state of emergency in Ontario.


Conclusions: Despite the increased reporting of depressive and anxious symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been no changes in the dispensing trends of medications used to treat these disorders. As the pandemic continues to evolve, future research is needed to monitor the prevalence of depression and anxiety, and associated medication use, in the Canadian population.


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