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New Research: Kids' Consumption of Chronic Medications on the Rise
Date:5/19/2010

groups, and higher than overall utilization growth of 2.3 percent.  Since 2001, the number of children ages 19 and younger using these medications has risen more than 150 percent, with girls between 10 and 19 showing the greatest jump at nearly 200 percent.  While growth in use of these treatments is substantial, the actual number of children using these drugs is still far less than is seen in adults.

The obesity epidemic may also be responsible for a higher prevalence of hypertension and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in youngsters.  From 2001 to 2009, there was a 17 percent increase in the use of antihypertensives in children, with the greatest growth (29 percent) seen in boys ages 10-19.  The number of children on proton pump inhibitors, used to treat heartburn and GERD, and in some cases prescribed for colic in infants, increased by 147 percent from 2001 to 2009.  

Last week, The Archives of Internal Medicine published a study showing that daily use of these drugs increases the risk of infection by Clostridium difficile, a harmful intestinal bacteria.  

Changing Behaviors

Utilization and costs of behavioral drug treatments continue to rise in children.  In 2009, 13.2 percent of the prescription drug benefit dollars spent on children went to ADHD treatments.  However, the greatest spike in utilization growth last year was not seen in the youngest demographic but rather in adults aged 20-34 where use of these drugs rose 21.2 percent.    

Among the drugs that have experienced substantial gains in the pediatric population are atypical antipsychotics; traditionally used to treat schizophrenia, these drugs have more recently been prescribed for a variety of psychiatric disorders.  The nine-year analysis revealed that the use of these
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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