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Some Children Prescribed Nonrecommended Meds for COVID-19

Some children were prescribed ineffective and potentially harmful medications for acute COVID-19

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 13, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Despite national guidelines, a small proportion of children were prescribed ineffective and potentially harmful medications for acute COVID-19, according to a study published online May 8 in Pediatrics.

Julianne E. Burns, M.D., from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving children younger than 18 years in a large U.S. all-payer claims database. Prescriptions were identified within two weeks of an acute COVID-19 diagnosis.

Between March 7, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2022, 3,082,626 COVID-19 diagnoses were identified in 2,949,118 children. The researchers found that in 0.03 and 0.14 percent of COVID-19 cases, respectively, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin were prescribed during nonrecommended periods (after Sept. 12, 2020, and Feb. 5, 2021, respectively), with considerable variation by state. In Arkansas and Oklahoma, prescription rates were four times higher than the national average (hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, respectively). An increased risk for either prescription was seen in association with older age, nonpublic insurance, and emergency department or urgent care visit. Residence in nonurban and low-income areas was associated with prescription of ivermectin. The highest rates of prescribing were seen for general practitioners.

“Ensuring timely and clear evidence-based recommendations are disseminated and adhered to by all types of providers will reduce disparities, ensure quality and cost-effective pediatric care, and should be prioritized by policymakers,” the authors write.

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