HealthDay News — Almost half of pediatric opioid prescriptions are considered high-risk by one or more metric, and high-volume prescribers write more than half of the prescriptions, according to a study published online August 16 in Pediatrics.

Kao-Ping Chua, MD, PhD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues identified opioid prescriptions dispensed to children and young adults (aged 0 to 21 years) in 2019 and calculated the proportion of US children with one or more dispensed opioid prescription. Performance on 6 metrics of high-risk prescribing was calculated, and the proportion of prescriptions written by each specialty was examined. A total of 4,027,701 prescriptions were included in the analyses.

The researchers found that 3.5% of US children and young adults had one or more dispensed opioid prescription. Overall, 41.8% of the prescriptions for opioid-naive patients exceeded a 3-day supply and 3.8% exceeded a 7-day supply. For young children, 8.4% of prescriptions were for tramadol and 7.7% were for codeine. Daily dosages were 50 or more morphine milligram equivalents in 11.5% of prescriptions for adolescents and young adults; benzodiazepine overlap was reported in 4.6%. Almost half (45.6%) of the prescriptions were high-risk by one or more metric. Of the prescriptions, 61.4% were written by dentists and surgeons. High-volume prescribers wrote 53.3 and 53.1% of prescriptions and high-risk prescriptions, respectively.

“To improve the safety of pediatric opioid prescribing, initiatives targeting high-volume prescribers may be warranted,” the authors write.

Continue Reading

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry and receiving fees for expert testimony.

Abstract/Full Text