PAS: Pharmacies Often Give Infants Overdose Amounts

Infants, toddlers routinely receive higher amounts of prescription drugs than they should

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Infants and toddlers receive overdose quantities of narcotic prescriptions from pharmacies fairly regularly, with younger ages associated with higher frequencies of overdose, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.

William T. Basco Jr., M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues identified the top 19 narcotic-containing drugs prescribed to children ages 0 to 36 months who were enrolled in the Medicaid program from 2000 to 2006. The investigators then calculated the expected daily dose of the narcotic based on an estimate of the child's weight, age, and gender and compared that dosage with the actual amount of painkiller dispensed by the pharmacy for each of 50,462 outpatient prescriptions.

The investigators found that 4.1 percent of all children received an overdose amount of narcotic-containing drugs, with the youngest children having the greatest risk of receiving an overdose amount of medication. The investigators found that approximately 40 percent of children younger than 2 months of age received an overdose amount, compared to 3 percent of children older than 1 year of age. On average, infants who received an overdose quantity were dispensed a 42-percent greater amount than what would have been expected.

"Almost one in 10 of the youngest infants ages 0 to 2 months received more than twice the dose that they should have received based on their age, gender and a conservative estimate of their weight," Basco said in a statement.

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