Did COVID-19 Impact the Monthly Number of Prescriptions Dispensed to Children?

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For this, they analyzed national prescription drug dispensing data from 92% of U.S pharmacies during 2018-2020. A comparison had been made between the dispensing totals of April to December 2020 and April to December 2019. The dispensing total was found to be dropped by 27%

‘The rate of prescribing antibiotics and common cold medications fell by nearly 51% and 80%, respectively. These drugs are known to produce allergic reactions and other adverse outcomes among children.’

The rate of prescribing antibiotics fell by nearly 51%. “The decrease in antibiotic dispensing most likely reflects reductions in infections, such as colds and strep throat, due to COVID-19 risk-mitigation measures like social distancing and face masks. As a result, children had fewer infection-related visits and had fewer opportunities to receive antibiotic prescriptions, whether for antibiotic-appropriate conditions or antibiotic-inappropriate conditions,” said lead author Dr.Kao-Ping Chua.

The study also found a decline of 80% in the prescription totals of medications used to treat the common cold and coughs. This is also a welcomed development in drug dispensing trends as the harmful side effects of these medications outweigh their benefits, particularly in young children.

A decline of about 11% was also observed in medications for ADHD. This is a matter of concern for the authors as they suspect this decline to be a temporary one due to the transition to remote learning, disruptions in medication access, or delays in diagnosis.

Asthma medications like albuterol and inhaled steroids also showed a plummet in dispensing rate. This is in line with national data reports about the reduced number of asthma attacks in children during the pandemic.

“An optimistic view is that few children on established antidepressant regimens discontinued use. Studies, however, suggest that the mental health of children has worsened during the pandemic, particularly among adolescents. Given this, our findings might suggest that antidepressant dispensing has not risen to meet this increased need,” said Chua regarding the decrease in dispensing rates of antidepressant drugs.

The study provides grounds to monitor whether these reductions are temporary or sustained. This will help clinicians inspect whether families found it unaffordable to buy medications or there was a reduction in health conditions during the study period.

Source: Medindia

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