Number of antibiotic prescriptions for children has declined

USA Today reports, “The number of antibiotic prescriptions for kids declined 14% from 2002 to 2010, but antibiotics remain the most frequently prescribed drugs for pediatric patients, a federal analysis finds.”

Altogether, “263.6 million prescriptions were written for patients 17 and under in 2010, down 7% from 2002, finds the analysis of prescription claims databases by Food and Drug Administration researchers, published today in the journal Pediatrics. By comparison, 3.3 billion were dispensed for ages 18 and up, 22% more than in 2002.”

On its website, ABC News reports that the study’s authors, led by Grace Chai of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, wrote, “Identification of drugs with the highest numbers of patients exposed can help focus research efforts on those drugs that could have a large impact on the pediatric population.”

The Time “Healthland” blog reports, “Among the drugs that declined in use: antibiotic prescriptions, which fell by 14%, though antibiotics were still the most frequently dispensed medications for kids; allergy meds, which dropped by 61%; cough and cold drugs, down by 42%; pain meds, down by 14%; and depression medications, which fell by 5%.”

The study “authors credit the decrease in antibiotics prescriptions to widespread initiatives by public-health experts to encourage doctors and parents to stop overusing the drugs – especially for viral infections that can’t be cured with antibiotics – and to educate the public on the increase in antibiotic resistance caused by overprescribing. ‘Our analyses suggest such efforts may be working,’ the authors write.”

According to the CNN “The Checkup” blog, “The report also highlights an increase in prescriptions for other drugs from 2002 to 2010, including contraceptives and asthma medications.” Meanwhile, “one of the biggest jumps was seen in AD/HD prescriptions – almost 50%, which experts attribute to two things: increased diagnosis and better medicines.”

Sandy Walsh, a spokesperson for the FDA, said of the report, “This type of data is important to identify gaps in research. We have shared this data in the hopes that others will initiate research to better understand how medications are used in children.”

HealthDay reports, “Dr. Victor Fornari, director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, NY, said the decrease in depression-medication prescriptions may have something to do with the black box warnings that were added to the drugs, which described an increased risk of suicide.”

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