Pediatric Asthma Drug Prescriptions on the Upswing

Costs associated with medications significantly up since late 1990s

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Among children, the use of medications to control asthma nearly doubled in the last decade, while costs associated with all asthma medications more than quadrupled, according to a September statistical brief published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Eric Mensah Sarpong, Ph.D., and G. Edward Miller, Ph.D., of the AHRQ in Rockville, Md., examined data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to compare asthma medication use and its related costs among children in 1997 to 1998 and 2007 to 2008.

The proportion of children being prescribed asthma medications rose from 4.7 percent in 1997-1998 to 6.1 percent in 2007-2008. The use of asthma controlling medications nearly doubled from the first time period to the second, while the use of asthma relieving medication fell from 43.8 to 30.4 percent. Expenditure associated with annual average use of all prescribed asthma medications rose more than four-fold, from $527 million to $2.5 billion.

"We present results on the treated prevalence of asthma; the use of controllers, relievers, oral corticosteroids, and specific classes of controller medications; and total and out-of-pocket drug expenditure," the authors write.

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