Long term drugs for children and other stories

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3062 (Published 11 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3062

It is often easier to start long term medication than to stop it. In older people, the “geriatrician’s scalpel” can be wielded to good effect to cut out multiple drugs, but do paediatricians and general practitioners need a similar scalpel for children who may not need their long term drugs? Unfortunately, this is a largely evidence free area. Cochrane reviewers searched for trials on stopping long acting β2 agonists (LABA) for children with asthma well controlled on LABA and inhaled corticosteroids (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011316.pub2). They found none: meaning that once these inhalers have been prescribed, the default position is to go on prescribing them, with unknown long term effects.

In France, the mean number of medicines given in 2011 to children under the age of 2 was nine (Archives of Disease in Childhood 2015, doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-307224). Domperidone was given to 21% of them. The average number of medicines prescribed to French children annually up to the …

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