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Facts on Access to Medications for People
with Depressive, Bipolar and Anxiety Illnesses


  • The treatment of persons with depressive, bipolar and anxiety disorders has been transformed in recent years with the introduction of ground-breaking medications that can relieve many of the symptoms. The result has been improved quality of life and improved productivity for many Americans.
  • For example, between 80-90% of those living with serious depression can be effectively treated and return to their normal daily activities and feelings.
  • However, finding the medications and dosages that work best for different patients requires many considerations – the diagnosis, medication factors and individual patient factors.
  • Failure to take these factors and others into account, can prove catastrophic for people with these disorders – creating serious consequences for the individual, family, and potentially the entire community.
Between 80-90% of those living with serious depression can be effectively treated and return to their normal daily activities and feelings.
  • External barriers such as "fail-first" strategies may impair the ability of people with these disorders to adhere to treatment. This is important because the first few episodes need effective treatment to improve the trajectory of response in the future.
  • Cost-containment policies such as restrictive formularies and "fail-first" policies are inappropriate and counter-productive. Any policy that restricts access to medications for depressive, bipolar and anxiety disorders interferes with the practice of medicine and denies patients appropriate clinical treatment.
  • These factors are the reasons that the independent Kaiser Family Foundation -- in their recent report on prior authorization for medications -- specifically recommended that psychiatric medications be exempt from any public policies that restrict access to medications.

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