Controlled Medications for Teens Nearly Doubled Since '94

Prescriptions written at considerable proportion of adolescent/young adult visits

MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The number of prescriptions written for controlled medications to adolescents and young adults has approximately doubled since 1994, according to research published online Nov. 29 in Pediatrics.

Robert J. Fortuna, M.D., of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, including 4,304 physicians, and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, including 2,805 clinics and 1,051 emergency departments, from 1994 and 2007. They examined the number of prescriptions for controlled substances, such as opioids, sedative-hypnotics, and stimulants, written to treat adolescents aged 15 to 19 and young adults aged 20 to 29.

The researchers found that, from 1994 and 2007, the proportion of visits in which controlled medications were prescribed for adolescents increased from 6.4 to 11.2 percent; prescriptions for young adults increased from 8.3 to 16.1 percent. Complaints of back pain accounted for prescriptions written for 24 percent of the adolescents and 37 percent of the young adults.

"Overall, a controlled medication was prescribed at ~1 of every 6 visits by young adults and ~1 of every 9 visits by adolescents. Although the increased prescribing of controlled medications does not necessarily foster misuse or diversion, the current trends warrant vigilance," the authors write.

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