Trends in Opioid Prescriptions in Children, Adolescents

Bottom Line: Prescription opioids dispensed to children and adolescents have steadily decreased since 2012 in an analysis of data from a large commercial insurance provider. The analysis include all oral opioids used for pain, excluding cough suppressants, and individuals with a health care claim associated with a cancer diagnosis were excluded. In 2004, an average of 3 of every 1,00 children and adolescents received an outpatient opioid prescription in a given month and that increased to 4 per 1,000 between 2009 to 2012 before dropping to 2 of every 1,000 children and adolescents in a given month at the start of 2017. The trend in long-term opioid prescription use (three or more consecutive months) also similarly declined. Data for this analysis came only from a single large commercial insurance provider, and opioid dispensing rates may differ in other populations and settings.

Authors: Brian T. Bateman, M.D., M.Sc., Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and coauthors

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.