Inappropriate use of anti-asthmatic drugs in the Italian paediatric population

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Oct;59(7):565-9. doi: 10.1007/s00228-003-0660-9. Epub 2003 Sep 6.


Objective: To evaluate anti-asthmatic drug prescriptions in a large Italian paediatric population.

Methods: Prescriptions involving 417,559 children younger than 14 years old dispensed during 2000 by the retail pharmacies of 17 Italian local health units participating in the ARNO project were analysed.

Results: In the study, 92,890 children (22.2%) received at least one anti-asthmatic drug prescription. The prevalence of prescriptions was higher in children less than 1 year old, significantly decreased with increasing age, and was higher in boys than in girls. Of children treated with anti-asthmatic drugs, 71.5% received prescriptions of less than three boxes. Beclomethasone, salbutamol, flunisolide and fluticasone were the most prescribed drugs. Beclomethasone and flunisolide were prescribed mostly as nebulised suspension.

Conclusions: The data suggest that anti-asthmatic drugs are often prescribed for diseases different from asthma and that many children are exposed to treatments for which there is no evidence of efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization Review / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Italy
  • Male


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents