Chronic Conditions Fuel Spike in Prescription Drug Use Among Children
In its 2010 Drug Trend Report, Medco Research Institute released alarming statistics about the use of chronic medications by children. The report found that 1 in 4 children and almost 30% of adolescents took at least 1 prescription medication for a chronic condition in 2009.
The largest increases in prescription drug use were for the treatment of chronic conditions not usually associated with youth, such as diabetes, hypertension, heartburn/gastroesophageal reflux disease, and psychiatric disorders. Between 2001 and 2009, type 2 diabetes medication use in children rose 150%; proton pump inhibitor use rose 147%; asthma medication use rose 42%; and the use of hypertensive agents rose 17%. The use of atypical antipsychotics, which are traditionally prescribed for schizophrenia, doubled. Among girls aged 10 to 19 years, the rate of growth for antipsychotics was 130%.
“Atypical antipsychotics are extremely powerful drugs that are being used far too commonly—especially in children,” said David Muzina, MD, national practice leader of the Medco Therapeutic Resource Center for Neuroscience. “We’re seeing them prescribed for a number of different conditions, including depression and anxiety, for which there is not good evidence that they are an effective treatment.”
Interestingly, the use of antidepressants in children was down 23% since 2004, likely in response to the FDA warnings about the increased risk of suicide when young people take this class of drugs.
Robert S. Epstein, MD, MS, chief medical officer and president of the Medco Research Institute, believes the statistics point to an underlying trend that is negatively impacting children’s health. “The fact that 1 in 3 adolescents are being treated for a chronic condition points to the need for additional health education and lifestyle changes that can address the obesity issue, which is likely a driving force behind such conditions as type 2 diabetes and even asthma,” he said.
C.A.R.E. Pharmacy Award to Honor Alzheimer’s Advocates
The Commitment to Alzheimer’s Recognition of Excellence (C.A.R.E.) Pharmacy Award will honor licensed pharmacists who make a difference in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. Sponsored by Eisai Inc and the Alzheimer’s Association, the C.A.R.E. Pharmacy Award is currently accepting nominations until July 31, 2010.
Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 5.3 million Americans and 11 million caregivers, and pharmacists play a critical role in offering both groups treatment and support. Patients and/or caregivers can nominate pharmacists who have displayed 1 or more of the following criteria: provided personal time or ongoing support, learned more about Alzheimer’s disease through education provided by a pharmacy society or the Alzheimer’s Association, demonstrated leadership in educating their local community about Alzheimer’s, or helped those affected by the disease in unique ways.
In addition to recognizing the winning pharmacist, the C.A.R.E. Pharmacy Award provides a $2500 donation to the winner’s local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. For a complete description of the award, and to make a nomination, visit www.carepharmacyaward.com.
New Bill Levels the Playing Field for Community Pharmacies
A bill promising to preserve seniors’ access to diabetes supplies has earned the endorsement of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). Introduced May 6, 2010, by Reps Peter Welch (D, VT) and Mike Rogers (R, MI), the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (HR 5235) exempts diabetes supplies provided by small community pharmacies—those earning $7 million or less in annual sales—from the Medicare competitive bidding process.
“The current competitive bidding program favors larger health care providers at the expense of smaller ones like community pharmacies,” said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer. Under the current program, community pharmacies must compete with larger suppliers to offer the lowest price for diabetes supplies, making it difficult for the smaller businesses to win contracts.
If exemption is not granted, NCPA said many community pharmacies would likely stop offering the supplies rather than participate in the process, which can be time-consuming and costly. “As a result,” said Roberts, “many seniors who get these supplies from community pharmacies could be forced to travel many miles or go through mail order without the faceto- face consultation that helps maximize health outcomes.”