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More Than 25% of US Kids and Teens Regularly Take Prescription Drugs

One might think that maintenance prescription medication and regular blood pressure checks are things that are only needed by the elderly; indeed, such things are normally required by the elder population. An article by The Wall Street Journal’s Anna Wilde Matthews, however, shares that more than 25 percent of kids and teens in the United States are regularly taking prescription drugs.

teen prescription drug abuseMatthews shared the story of 8-year-old Gage Martindale, who has been taking blood-pressure medication since he was a toddler. His mom also takes his blood pressure regularly using a home monitor. Gage said, “I want to be healthy, and I don’t want things in my heart to go wrong.”

Medco Health Solutions, Inc., the biggest U.S. pharmacy-benefit manager, shared the previously-mentioned percentage of kids taking prescription drugs on a chronic basis, based on their database figures for 2009. In addition, almost 7 percent of these kids are taking two or more drugs.

According to figures shared to The Wall Street Journal by research firm IMS Health, kids and teens are taking medications that were once thought to be only for adults. This includes statins, diabetes pills, and sleep drugs. IMS also shared that prescriptions for antihypertensives in teens aged 19 and younger may reach up to 5.5 million for this year, if trends through September were to continue.

Danny Benjamin, a pediatrics professor at Duke University, said that most medications that could be prescribed to children on a regular basis have not been tested specifically in children. Dr. Benjamin suggested that parents should strive to understand the evidence for the medicine, confirm the diagnosis for their kids, and identify side effects, through research. Parents can check drug labels as well as resources on the FDA website, published research at www.pubmed.gov, and clinical guidelines from such groups as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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