Fewer children got prescription meds during pandemic

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 3:51 PM CDT
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(CNN) – Fewer children and teens got prescription medications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s according to a report in the journal Pediatrics.

It found a drop of nearly 80% in cough medicines given for the common cold and a 56% decrease in antibiotic prescriptions.

The report found prescriptions for other drugs also fell, except for antidepressants.

“Because of many of the detrimental effects of COVID, anxiety and depression, we are prescribing more anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications,” said Dr. Steven Abelowitz, a California pediatrician.

Researchers tracked data between April and December of 2019 and compared it to the same period last year.

The research team looked at data covering 92% of U.S. pharmacies for their study.

Researches say the drop in antibiotics most likely reflects a decrease in infections like colds and strep throat due to COVID-19 safety measures like social distancing and masks.

But health officials also cite issues with health care access during the pandemic.

“Difficulty finding available providers, available services, sometimes lacking the smartphone or broadband needed to connect with telehealth care or other digital tools,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the Health Equity Task Force.

Citing potential side effects, some health officials have welcomed the drop in antibiotics dispensing.

Still, some are worried about antidepressants for children becoming a growing trend.

“Over the last year we probably, myself, have prescribed more of those medications than cumulatively the last 22 years prior, which is horrible,” Abelowitz said.

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