Psychotropic Medication Use and Polypharmacy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Children with autism often take multiple drugs, despite limited evidence about the drugs’ long-term safety

Children with autism often take multiple drugs, despite limited evidence about the drugs’ long-term safety…

Abstract

Many children with autism take multiple drugs
Children with autism often take multiple drugs, despite limited evidence about the drugs’ long-term safety.

OBJECTIVE:
The objectives of this study were to examine rates and predictors of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy among commercially insured children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

METHODS:
This retrospective observational study used administrative medical and pharmacy claims data linked with health plan enrollment and sociodemographic information from 2001 to 2009. Children with ASD were identified by using a validated ASD case algorithm. Psychotropic polypharmacy was defined as concurrent medication fills across ≥ 2 classes for at least 30 days. Multinomial logistic regression was used to model 5 categories of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy.

RESULTS:
Among 33,565 children with ASD, 64% had a filled prescription for at least 1 psychotropic medication, 35% had evidence of psychotropic polypharmacy (≥ 2 classes), and 15% used medications from ≥ 3 classes concurrently. Among children with polypharmacy, the median length of polypharmacy was 346 days. Older children, those who had a psychiatrist visit, and those with evidence of co-occurring conditions (seizures, attention-deficit disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression) had higher odds of psychotropic use and/or polypharmacy.

CONCLUSIONS:
Despite minimal evidence of the effectiveness or appropriateness of multidrug treatment of ASD, psychotropic medications are commonly used, singly and in combination, for ASD and its co-occurring conditions. Our results indicate the need to develop standards of care around the prescription of psychotropic medications to children with ASD.

KEYWORDS:
administrative claims, autism spectrum disorder, commercially insured, psychotropic polypharmacy

Read Many children with autism take multiple drugs
by Laura Geggel, 3 Dec 2013
Sources: NCBI, PMID: 24144704 PMCID: PMC3813388 2014/11/1

Our posts tagged ASD – Anti-Depressants – Autism – Drugs – SSRIs

4 thoughts on “Psychotropic Medication Use and Polypharmacy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders”

  1. As a mom of an adult child was ASD, I’ve been on the drug route. They were given as a last resort when Therpy, behavior modification etc did not work. He was interrupting his class and interfering with his learning as well as others. I forget what we put him on, but I have to say, it helped a great deal. It calmed his mind and behavior just enough so he could learn and not disrupt the entire class. That said, at so e point when he was in high school he decided he didn’t want to take any medication for anything, and stopped taking everything. I feel he could use something for anixity but he disagrees and at this point, I can’t force the issue. He also stopped taking his meds for Crohn’s. Well this December he started to have a flair up, he went back on his meds. Now if I can get him some anixity meds, I’d feel better!

Have your say ! Share your views