Prevalence of Psychotropic Medicine Use in Australian Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Drug Utilization Study Based on Children Enrolled in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
Based on data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children linked with pharmacy dispensing data from the Australian Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, we calculated the 1-year prevalence of psychotropic medicine supply in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as reported by parents in 2014. The majority of children and adolescents with ASD in Australia were not treated with psychotropic medicine. One-third had claims for at least one psychotropic medication, most commonly medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and antidepressants. Antipsychotics were supplied to less than one in twenty children and approximately one in ten adolescents. In line with findings from North America, psychotropic medicine was more often supplied to children and adolescents with ASD and comorbid ADHD.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Autism Drug utilization Psychotropic drugs Australia
This research was supported by NHMRC research Grant APP 1040938. E Roughead is supported by NHMRC research Grant APP1110139. L. Rasmussen was supported by a grant from the University of Southern Denmark and Oticon Fonden to support her research stay at the Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, South Australia, Australia. This study uses confidentialised unit record data from Growing Up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. The study is conducted in partnership between the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The findings and views reported in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of FaHCSIA, AIFS or the ABS. The authors thank all the participants of the LSAC study. The LSAC management team and the Department of Social Services are acknowledged for their assistance with data related questions. Lan Kelly (University of South Australia) and Anton Pottegård (University of Southern Denmark) are acknowledged for their valuable input to the final manuscript.
LR planned the study, participated in its design, performed the data analysis, interpreted the data and drafted the manuscript. NP participated in the design, the interpretation of data and helped draft the manuscript. ER participated in the interpretation of data and helped draft the manuscript. AM participated in the planning of the study, its design, the interpretation of data and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children protocol is approved by the Australian Institute of Family Studies Ethics Committee, and all parents or guardians of participants provided written informed consent. Permission to use the data to address the aims of this study was granted by the National Centre for Longitudinal Data, Australian Government Department of Social Services.
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