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Drug utilisation among Dutch adolescents: a pharmacy prescription records study

Abstract

Background Studies on adolescent drug use are scarce as most studies do not distinguish between children and adolescents. Therefore, we assessed overall drug use in adolescents.

Methods A retrospective cohort study was conducted using pharmacy dispensing records from 62 community pharmacies in the Netherlands. Dispensing records of the previous 5 years were extracted for adolescents (12–18 years).

Results The study population consisted of 47 421 adolescents who collected at least one medication prescription during adolescence (mean age 15.5±1.8 years; 48.9% males). Half of them collected dermatologicals (46.2% males; 52.3% females), followed by drugs for the respiratory system (43.4% males; 40.3% females) and anti-infectives for systemic use (31.3% males; 39.1% females). The percentage of males using dermatologicals slightly increased, while the percentage of female users decreased with age. The most prescribed active ingredient was methylphenidate.

Conclusions These insights into adolescent drug use help us to better understand adolescent healthcare use.

Trial registration number Dutch trial register NTR5061.

  • adolescent health
  • epidemiology
  • general paediatrics
  • pharmacology
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