Fewer antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed to infants, children and adolescents than in the past, but prescriptions dispensed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have increased, according to a study by the Food and Drug Administration that analyzed large outpatient retail prescription databases.
The study, “Trends in Outpatient Prescription Drug Utilization in U.S. Children, 2002 to 2010,” in the July issue of Pediatrics (published online June 18) found 263.6 million prescriptions were prescribed for patients ages 0 to 17 years in 2010, which is 7 percent lower than in 2002. (Prescriptions for the adult population increased 22 percent during the same time period.)
Compared to 2002, drug trends in 2010 showed a decrease in systemic antibiotic prescriptions, which dropped 14 percent, though antibiotics were still the most frequently dispensed medication for pediatric patients. Trends also showed decreases in allergy (-61 percent), pain (-14 percent) and depression (-5 percent) prescriptions. Prescriptions for cough/cold without expectorant medications dropped 42 percent comparing 2010 to 2002 data; there was an FDA advisory against the use of such medications in very young children released in 2008. Increases were seen in asthma (14 percent), ADHD (46 percent) and contraceptive (93 percent) prescriptions.
Identification of the most commonly used medications can help focus research efforts, study authors conclude.