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Paper of the day: PCT pharmaceutical advisor visits 'have no effect on antidepressant prescribing'

PCT pharmaceutical advisor visits have no effect on prescribing, according to a trial that assessed the effects of ‘educational outreach' visits on GP choice of antidepressant.

The study, of 72 practices in two primary care trusts in north east England, found no difference in the antidepressant prescribing patterns of GPs visited by trained PCT advisers (who were all pharmacists) compared to those who were not visited.

GPs were randomly visited, or not, irrespective of whether ‘problems' had been identified with their prescribing before the visit. The visits were meant to reinforce guidance supporting more use of tricyclic antidepressants, in particular lofepramine, and titration up to effective doses of older, less expensive drugs.

But the patterns of prescribing between the two groups were indistinguishable, the researchers concluded. They suggest that the context of increased SSRI prescribing, and the promotion of SSRIs by manufacturers may explain the lack of effect of the advisor visits.

Implementation Science 2007 2: 23.

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