Too many drugs are prescribed to children in France, and in particular to those under six, warns a study published on Monday.
“France is one of the most prescribing countries for outpatient pediatric drugs” (that is to say outside hospitals), even if we must be careful in these comparisons because “health systems and reimbursement policies drugs differ between countries ”, underlines in a press release the Inserm research institute.
However, “the youngest children are particularly vulnerable to the short-term and long-term side effects of drugs”. “In addition, the safety profile (possible risks and adverse effects, editor’s note) of many drugs used in pediatrics is only partially known,” adds Inserm.
“These worrying results require detailed analyzes to better target future training campaigns (in order) to optimize the use of drugs in pediatrics”, estimates the co-author of the study, Dr Marion Taine, quoted in the press release. .
“Better information for the population and prescribers regarding the use of medicines in children is essential,” she insists.
Published in the journal The Lancet Regional Health Europe, this study looks at this type of prescription in 2018-2019, compared to 2010-2011, on the basis of reimbursement data by Social Security.
It relates to reimbursed drugs prescribed to people under 18, excluding hospitalizations, by a doctor, a midwife or a dentist. In total, for 2018-2019, more than 230 million drug dispensations were analyzed.
Over this period, “on average, 86 out of 100 children under the age of 18 were exposed to at least one drug prescription during a year”, ie “a 4% increase compared to 2010-2011”, according to Inserm.
“Children under six years of age represented the category of children most exposed to drugs with more than 97 out of 100 children affected over one year,” continues Inserm.
In addition, “one in three children under 6 years of age has received a prescription for oral corticosteroids”, a stable level since 2010-2011 “despite known side effects”.
The most prescribed families of drugs are analgesics (64% of minors have had them), antibiotics (40%), nasal corticosteroids (33%), vitamin D (30%), non-inflammatory drugs. steroids (24%), antihistamines (25%) and oral corticosteroids (21%).
In accordance with official recommendations, the study notes “a 12% decrease in the frequency of antibiotic prescriptions over the past ten years”. But this remains “insufficient because more than one in two children under the age of 6 has received an antibiotic prescription within the year”, according to Dr Taine.
The researchers believe that “these high levels of prescriptions could be explained in particular by the positive image associated with drugs in France, both in the population and among prescribers”.
“In other countries with advanced economies, there would be a more conscious report of the benefit-risk balance of drugs”, they judge.
Thus, “the frequencies of prescriptions of oral corticosteroids for French children were (respectively) 5 and 20 times higher than those observed for American and Norwegian children in other recent studies”.
And “for antibiotics, the frequency of prescriptions to French children was 5 times higher than that observed in the Netherlands”.
The study was carried out by researchers from Inserm, the University of Paris, the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines / Université Paris-Saclay, the AP-HP and the groupement d scientific interest Epi-Phare.
Source: TV5 – health