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Discontinuation is the process of quitting a procedure, such as the course of treatment with a drug or a consumer product line.
Discontinuation (DC) of a medical treatment is to stop administering a treatment to a patient. There are several reasons for discontinuation, e.g.:
- The ailment or reason it was taken has disappeared.
- The adverse effects outweigh the desired effects.
- Better alternatives are available.
Drug discontinuation may cause rebound effects (return of the symptoms the drug relieved, and that, to a degree stronger than they were before treatment first began) and withdrawal syndromes (symptoms caused by the discontinuation by the drug itself).
Recent research (Nixon & Vendelø, 2016) shows that General Practitioners (GPs) who actively consider discontinuation, are reluctant to do so, as they experience that the safest decision is to continue prescriptions, rather than discontinue them. In part this is due to the ambiguity about the appropriateness of discontinuing medication. Yet, it should also be noted that the clinical guidelines available to GPs do not encourage discontinuation of medication, and thus, they offer GPs a weak frame for discontinuation.
Discontinuation for consumer products is when a product's manufacture and/or support are stopped by the company that makes the product. This is usually due to low sales, but it does not mean the product never sold well. Many high selling products eventually see a drop in sales and eventual discontinuation, usually after being superseded by a superior product.
- DC in medilexicon, retrieved Jan 2013
Nixon, M. S., & Vendelø, M. T. (2016) General Practitioners’ Decisions about Discontinuation of Medication: An Explorative Study. Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 565-580.