Inter-country variations in anti-asthmatic drug prescriptions for children. Systematic review of studies published during the 2000-2009 period.

Laboratory for Mother and Child Health, Department of Public Health, Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, via G. La Masa 19, 20156 Milan, Italy.
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.7). 09/2010; 66(9):929-36. DOI: 10.1007/s00228-010-0845-y
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to analyse inter-and intra-country quantitative and qualitative differences in anti-asthmatic prescriptions to children and adolescents.
A literature search was performed in EMBASE and MEDLINE to identify pharmaco-epidemiological studies published from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2008 in which anti-asthmatic prescription prevalence in out-hospital children was measured. A meta-analytic weighted average and 95% confidence intervals of prescription prevalences were calculated using a random-effect(s) model. Inter- and intra-country quantitative and, where possible, qualitative prescribing patterns were compared and assessed.
Twelve studies were identified (ten from Europe, one from Canada and one from the USA), but epidemiological indicators varied widely, and only eight were suitable for meta-analysis. The data from these studies revealed inter-country quantitative differences in prescription prevalences in the overall population <or=19 years, with Italy having a prescription prevalence of 19.0%, Canada, 18.0%, USA, 14.6%, Denmark, 13.9%, Norway, 9.1% and the Netherlands, 6.2%. The overall prevalence was 13.3%. The analysis of qualitative inter-country differences revealed that, except for Italy, inhalatory short-acting beta-agonists were the most prescribed, followed by inhalatory corticosteroids.
This first overall analysis of anti-asthmatic utilization studies in out-of-hospital children indicates a wide variability in anti-asthmatic prescription prevalence. It also reveals that epidemiological evaluations should be improved by using homogeneous indicators and, in order to validate the use of anti-asthmatic prescription as a proxy of disease, the diagnosis of asthma should accompany the data of prescriptions within the same population.

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    ABSTRACT: Respiratory drugs are widely used in children to treat labeled and non-labeled indications but only some data are available quantifying comprehensively off-label usage. Thus, we aim to analyse drug utilisation and off-label prescribing of respiratory drugs focusing on age- and indication-related off-label use. Patients aged ≤18 years documented in the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians database (approx. 2 million children) between 2004 and 2008 were included in our study. Annual period prevalence rates (PPRs) per 10,000 children and the proportion of age- and indication-related off-label prescriptions were calculated and stratified by age and gender. Within the study period, highest PPRs were found for the fixed combination of clenbuterol/ambroxol (between 374-575 per 10,000 children) and the inhaled short acting beta-2-agonist salbutamol (between 378-527 per 10,000 children). Highest relative PPR increase was found for oral salbutamol (approx. 39-fold) whereas the most distinct decrease was found for oral long-acting beta-2-agonist clenbuterol (-97%). Compound classes most frequently involved in off-label prescribing were inhaled bronchodilative compounds (91,402; 37.3%) and oral beta-2-agonists (26,850; 22.5%). The highest absolute number of off-label prescriptions were found for inhaled salbutamol (n = 67,084; 42.0%) and oral clenbuterol/ambroxol (fixed combination, n = 18,897; 20.7%). Off-label prescribing due to indication was of much greater relevance than age-related off-label use. Most frequently, bronchodilative compounds were used off-label to treat respiratory tract infections. Highest off-label prescription rates were found in the youngest patients without relevant gender-related differences. Off-label prescribing of respiratory drugs is common especially in young children. Bronchodilative drugs were most frequently used off-label for treating acute bronchitis or upper respiratory tract infections underlining the essential need for a more rational prescribing in this area.
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