Psychotropic drug sales data for Italy were examined for the years 1975–84. The principal findings were of more-or-less consistent annual increases in sales of antidepressants, minor tranquillizers and, to a lesser extent, of neuroleptics. These trends are interpreted in the context of the characteristics of the Italian National Health Service (NHS), and in relation to findings from psychotropic drug utilization studies in other Western countries.
Regional differences in psychotropic drug sales for 1983/4 were also examined. Marked differences were found and, in general, levels of use were higher in North/Central Italy than in the South. Factors influencing regional differences were explored using regression analysis. Regional NHS expenditure (excluding that on drugs) was found to influence strongly the sales of all categories of psychotropic drug, whereas there was also a marked urban > rural difference in the sales tranquillizers.