AD/HD Drug Use for Preschoolers Spikes

Spending on AD/HD medication for children under five has jumped dramatically in recent years.

Tuesday June 1st - 10:00am

Between 2000 and 2003, spending on AD/HD medications for children under age 5 jumped a remarkable 369%, according to new data released in May at the Medco Health Solutions Drug Trend Symposium. For children overall (up to 19 years old), the increase in spending for these medications was 183%. In addition, the number of preschoolers using AD/HD drugs jumped 49% in this period, with a 20% increase for all children.

The findings are part of research reviewing prescription data of behavioral medications used to treat children's conditions including AD/HD, depression, autism, and conduct disorders. Prescription drug spending (2000 to 2003) for all behavioral conditions rose 77%, due to the increasing costs of these drugs as well as the increasing rate of medication use in children. The purpose of the research is to identify factors that contribute to these rising costs.

"This analysis provides a striking commentary in the state of pediatric treatment in this country, as well as the costs shouldered by parents whose children live with these conditions," said Robert Epstein, M.D., Medco's chief medical officer. "It goes without saying that early detection and appropriate treatment of these conditions is extremely important, but the emphasis is on 'appropriate' with an eye on cost-effective therapy, as well."

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