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Prescription Drug Dispensing to Children Down During Pandemic

Percentage changes were −51.3 and −17.4 percent for drug classes typically treating acute infections, chronic diseases

woman and son at pharmacy

TUESDAY, July 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- During April to December 2020, prescription drug dispensing to children was 27.1 percent lower than during the same period in 2019, according to a study published online July 20 in Pediatrics.

Kao-Ping Chua, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined changes in the monthly number of prescriptions dispensed to U.S. children aged 0 to 19 years during 2018 to 2020. Dispensing totals were compared in April to December 2020 and April to December 2019.

The researchers found that the median monthly number of prescriptions dispensed to children was 25,744,758 between January 2018 and February 2020. Between March and April 2020, there was a decrease in dispensing totals from 25,684,219 to 16,742,568, followed by an increase to 19,657,289 during October 2020 and a further decrease to 15,821,914 during December 2020. During April to December 2020, dispensing totals were 27.1 percent lower than in April to December 2019 (160,630,406 versus 220,284,613). Among the three drug classes accounting for the most prescriptions in 2019, the corresponding percentage changes were −55.6, −11.8, and 0.1 percent for antibiotics, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications, and antidepressants, respectively. Percentage changes were −51.3 and −17.4 percent among drug classes that typically treat acute infections and chronic diseases, respectively.

"Decreased dispensing of chronic disease drugs to children during the pandemic is potentially concerning and warrants further investigation," the authors write. "On the other hand, declines in dispensing of infection-related drugs, such as antitussives and antibiotics, may be welcome developments."

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