Tweens Double Use of Diabetes Drugs
The finding is included in a study of chronic medication use in children 5 to 19 reported today at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association by researchers from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and School of Public Health and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts. In addition to diabetes, utilization patterns for blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma and depression medications were also examined.
"Across every chronic medication class we examined over this four year period of time, children's use increased, with varying patterns of growth across males and females and age groups," said Emily R. Cox, PhD, RPh, senior director of research at Express Scripts.
For example, the number of males between 15 and 19 using a blood pressure drug increased by 15.4 percent even as the number of females in the age group taking the drugs, called antihypertensives, declined by 1.6 percent.
On the other hand, the number of females between 15 and 19 taking an anti-depressant increased by 6.8 percent while, for males in the same age group, utilization declined slightly.
This increase in anti-depressant use among 15 to 19 year old girls was a striking exception to decreases for boys and girls five to nine and boys 10 to 19. It also occurred despite a Public Health Advisory released by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2003, regarding anti-depressant use by children. Among all children, the prevalence of antidepressant use had been increasing prior to the advisory after which it decreased.
With asthma, children age five to nine accounted for the largest increase in the use of controller medication among the three age groups at 67.3 percent as compared to 38.8 percent for the 10 to 14 age group and 34.7 percent for the 15 to 19 age group.
"This may be explained by concerns over long-term side effects of these medications in children and/or greater physician office visits, and therefore greater likelihood of prescribing," explained Donna R. Halloran, MD, MSPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
"Overall, these patterns could reflect changing prescribing behaviors by physicians (anti-hypertensives), increases in the risk factors for chronic diseases (type-2 antidiabetics, antihyperlipidemics), increased office visit rates and therefore screening rates - particularly for females - or trends toward greater use of drug therapy as the preferred mode of treating children with chronic conditions," observed Sharon M. Homan, PhD, professor of community health, Saint Louis University School of Public Health.
The database used in conducting the study consists of ambulatory administrative pharmacy claims and eligibility information for over 3.5 million commercially-insured children enrolled with Express Scripts between 2002 and 2005. The poster is available at http://www.express-scripts.com/ourcompany/pressroom/ mediakit/trendsObesityChildren2002-05.pdf.(Due to its length, this URL may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser's address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)
About Express Scripts
Express Scripts, Inc. is one of the largest PBM companies in North America, providing PBM services to over 50 million members. Express Scripts serves thousands of client groups, including managed-care organizations, insurance carriers, employers, third-party administrators, public sector, and union-sponsored benefit plans. Express Scripts is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. More information can be found at http://www.express-scripts.com.
About Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of the Mississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is a pioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic disease prevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research, among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services on a local, national and international level.
About Saint Louis University School of Public Health
Saint Louis University School of Public Health is one of only 38 fully accredited schools of public health in the United States and the nation's only School of Public Health sponsored by a Jesuit university. It offers master's degrees and doctoral programs in six public health disciplines and a number of joint degrees involving business, law, medicine, nursing and social work. It is home to 12 nationally recognized research centers and draws students from across the United States and from 38 foreign countries.
Posted: November 2007