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Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011 Aug;22(5):469-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.01121.x.

Prescription patterns for asthma medications in children and adolescents with health care insurance in the United States.

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Risk MR, LLC, Bridgewater, NJ, USA.


Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood, and its prevalence has increased over recent decades. However, many children and adolescents with asthma are not being managed in accordance with guideline recommendations. The objective of this study was to analyze prescribing patterns for asthma medications in 6- to 18-yr-olds, with a focus on those aged 6-11 yr. Data from patients enrolled for ≥6 months in PharMetrics were analyzed between June 1, 1995, and September 30, 2008. PharMetrics contains data from 45 million US patients from 85 health care plans, including standard and mail order prescription records. Prescriptions for asthma medication for each patient were recorded. The overall asthma cohort included 659,169 patients; 34,950 (5%) were classified as having severe asthma. The 6- to 11-yr-old subgroup consisted of 374,068 patients (56.7% of the overall asthma cohort). Almost 40% of the population received no medication (severe asthma 1.0%; non-severe asthma 37.6%), with almost identical findings in the 6- to 11-yr-old subgroup. In patients with non-severe and severe asthma, frequency of medication use was as follows: short-acting β(2) -agonists (53% and 92%), oral steroids (23% and 64%), leukotriene receptor antagonists (17% and 49%); inhaled corticosteroids alone (15% and 80%) and in combination with long-acting β(2) -agonists (10% and 22%), respectively. Results for patients in the 6- to 11-yr subgroup were similar to those of the overall cohort. In conclusion, a considerable proportion of children and adolescents with asthma do not receive any asthma medication. Among those who do receive medication, adherence to current guidelines is questionable.

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