A small number of drugs are used most commonly during pediatric hospitalizations

Research Activities October 2011, No. 374

Only two drugs were used in more than 10 percent of pediatric hospitalizations—acetaminophen (14.7 percent) and lidocaine (11 percent), while another eight drugs were used in 5-10 percent of children's hospitalizations, according to a new study. The study examined the feasibility of using a large administrative database to develop national estimates of pediatric inpatient medication use in order to improve pediatric drug labeling, include more children in clinical trials of medications, and address children's special metabolic and dosage issues.

Beyond the 10 most prevalent drugs, the researchers found that another 51 drugs were used in at least 1 percent (but less than 10 percent) of all pediatric inpatient hospitalizations, while 240 drugs were used in at least 0.1 percent (and less than 1 percent) of these hospitalizations. All other drugs were used less frequently. The lists of 10-most-common drugs differed for children under 2 years old, children 2-4 years old, children 5-11 years old, and children 11-17 years old, although acetaminophen remained the most frequent drug used through age 11.

The researchers used the commercial Premier Perspective database for data on medications used during pediatric hospitalizations during 2008. They validated the database by comparing characteristics of the patients with those in the 2006 AHRQ Health Care Utilization Program's Kid Inpatient Database. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17998).

More details are in "Estimating pediatric inpatient medication use in the United States," by Tamar Lasky, Ph.D., Frank R. Ernst, Pharm.D., M.S., Jay Greenspan, M.D., and others in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety 20(1), pp. 76-82, 2011.

Current as of October 2011
Internet Citation: A small number of drugs are used most commonly during pediatric hospitalizations: Research Activities October 2011, No. 374. October 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/oct11/1011RA23.html