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Opioid Prescription Trends in Children, Adolescents

JAMA Pediatrics; ePub 2018 Nov 12; Gagne, He, et al

A recent study found that prescription opioids dispensed to children and adolescents in a large commercially insured US population have been steadily decreasing since 2012. These findings are consistent with trends in adults that show a slight decline between 2011 and 2013 and with national trends observed in the overall US population from 2011 through 2015. Researchers evaluated trends in opioid prescriptions dispensed to individuals ≤18 years between January 1, 2004, and March 31, 2017. The database contains administrative pharmacy and medical claims for a large national, commercially insured population across all 50 US states, including approximately 2.5 million individuals ≤18 years at a given time. They found:

  • In 2004, a mean (SD) of 3.3 (0.6) of every 1,000 children and adolescents received an outpatient opioid prescription in a given month.
  • This increased by 24% to 4.1 (0.6) of every 1,000 children and adolescents between 2009 and 2012 and then dropped to 2.1 (0.3) per 1,000 children and adolescents at the beginning of 2017.
  • A similar trend was observed for long-term opioid use.

Gagne JJ, He M, Bateman BT. Trends in opioid prescription in children and adolescents in a commercially insured population in the United States, 2004-2017. [Published online ahead of print November 12, 2018]. JAMA Pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.3668.

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