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Pediatrics. 2013 Nov;132(5):833-40. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-3774. Epub 2013 Oct 21.

Psychotropic medication use and polypharmacy in children with autism spectrum disorders.

Author information

1
The Lewin Group, 3130 Fairview Park Dr, Suite 600, Falls Church, VA 22042. anjali.jain@lewin.com.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The objectives of this study were to examine rates and predictors of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy among commercially insured children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

METHODS:

This retrospective observational study used administrative medical and pharmacy claims data linked with health plan enrollment and sociodemographic information from 2001 to 2009. Children with ASD were identified by using a validated ASD case algorithm. Psychotropic polypharmacy was defined as concurrent medication fills across ≥ 2 classes for at least 30 days. Multinomial logistic regression was used to model 5 categories of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy.

RESULTS:

Among 33,565 children with ASD, 64% had a filled prescription for at least 1 psychotropic medication, 35% had evidence of psychotropic polypharmacy (≥ 2 classes), and 15% used medications from ≥ 3 classes concurrently. Among children with polypharmacy, the median length of polypharmacy was 346 days. Older children, those who had a psychiatrist visit, and those with evidence of co-occurring conditions (seizures, attention-deficit disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression) had higher odds of psychotropic use and/or polypharmacy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite minimal evidence of the effectiveness or appropriateness of multidrug treatment of ASD, psychotropic medications are commonly used, singly and in combination, for ASD and its co-occurring conditions. Our results indicate the need to develop standards of care around the prescription of psychotropic medications to children with ASD.

KEYWORDS:

administrative claims; autism spectrum disorder; commercially insured; psychotropic polypharmacy

PMID:
24144704
PMCID:
PMC3813388
DOI:
10.1542/peds.2012-3774
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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