The rate of girls on type 2 diabetes drugs has risen much more quickly than the usage rate among boys, according to a study of pediatric prescription drug trends by pharmacy benefit manager Medco.
From 2001 to 2006, type 2 diabetes drug use rose 167% in girls ages 10 to 19 and only 33% in boys the same age. Significantly steeper increases also were seen in the number of girls vs. boys taking Rx sleep aids (80% vs. 34%), antipsychotics (117% vs. 71%) and ADHD drugs (74% vs. 37%).
Medco said its study, based on prescription drug claims of some 370,000 adolescents, may be evidence that more girls are being appropriately diagnosed and treated, “but it also raises red flags about the physical and psychological problems afflicting this population.”
The medication spike is linked to soaring prevalence of the diseases. An NYU study showed a 200% jump in the number of children 18 and younger hospitalized with type 2 diabetes between 1997 and 2003. Once known as "adult-onset diabetes," type 2 is now a growing problem among youth. Childhood obesity and higher insulin resistance among girls in puberty and adolescence are factors. Although, Medco saw one hopeful sign: growth in the number of patients on diabetes, antipsychotic and ADHD drugs leveled off from 2005 to 2006, although sleep drug use went up from the year prior.
Ironically, the PBM said that while FDA black-box warnings and media reports about side effects over the past few years have raised awareness about drug safety, “The associated risks may be impacting parents’ and physicians’ willingness to put children on these drugs.”