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Trends in the Long Term Use of Benzodiazepine Anxiolytics and Hypnotics: A National Register Study for 2006 to 2014

Julkaistu 4.5.2018



Long-term benzodiazepine (BZD) treatment continues to be a debated topic. Because individual BZDs have different clinical profiles, we assessed the nationwide trends of long-term BZD use at active substance level during years 2006 to 2014.


This study covered all reimbursed BZD purchases (n = 408 572-521 823 annually) for adults recorded in the Finnish Prescription Register. We assessed long-term use (annual cumulative purchase of ≥180 defined daily doses) in general, and at active substance level with the most commonly used BZD anxiolytics (oxazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, and clonazepam for nonepilepsy indications) and hypnotics (zopiclone, zolpidem, and temazepam) included. The persistence rates for each substance were assessed separately.


The prevalence of long-term BZD use among Finnish adults declined significantly from 5.3% to 3.6%, during years 2006 to 2014. Despite this decline, there was a significant increase in the long-term use of clonazepam for nonepilepsy indications and zolpidem (28.0% and 17.5%, respectively). Long-term use was common in the aged population, as well as among the users of hypnotics or clonazepam. Persistent use of 9 consecutive calendar years varied between 7.5% for incident alprazolam users and 21.0% for incident clonazepam users.


We found a declining trend in long-term BZD use, but the decline was not uniform between the substances—the long-term use of clonazepam and zolpidem even increased. Follow-up research is needed to assess whether the decline in BZD use is accompanied by an increased use of other types of anxiolytic or hypnotic drugs or other forms of treatment.

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Terhi Kurko, Leena K Saastamoinen, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, Tero Taiminen, Jari Tiihonen, Marja Airaksinen, Jarmo Hietala

Lisätietoja julkaisusta

  • Vertaisarvioitu: kyllä.
  • Avoin saatavuus: ei.
  • Koko viite: Kurko, T., Saastamoinen, L. K., Tuulio-Henriksson, A., Taiminen, T., Tiihonen, J., Airaksinen, M., & Hietala, J. (2018). Trends in the long-term use of benzodiazepine anxiolytics and hypnotics: A national register study for 2006 to 2014. Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety, 27(6), 674–682.

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