ORLANDO, Fla. Prescription spending for chronic medications used by children increased 10.8% in 2009, 5% of which was triggered by drug utilization and higher medication costs, according to the Medco "2010 Drug Trend Report."
The growth in prescription drug use among children was nearly four times higher than the rise seen in the overall population, Medco said. In a corresponding analysis, Medco found that more than 1-in-4 insured U.S. children and nearly 30% of adolescents (10-19 year olds) took at least one prescription medication to treat a chronic condition in 2009; the most substantial increases were seen in the use of antipsychotic, diabetes and asthma drugs over the past nine years.
"While H1N1 caused a spike in antiviral use among children last year, the far more alarming trend since the beginning of the decade is the increasing use of medications taken by children on a regular basis and in some cases, for conditions that we don't often associate with youth, such as type 2 diabetes," said Robert S. Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer and president of the Medco Research Institute. "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 that is likely a driving force behind such conditions as Type 2 diabetes and even asthma."