Aim: To describe the changes in drug prescription to 0-14-y-old outpatient children from 1991 to 2001.
Methods: ATC codes on prescriptions were compared.
Main results: Prescriptions rose from 2.00 to 2.18 drugs/child/year, and the proportion of prescribed drugs rose from 60.7% to 70.4% of the child population (p<0.001). The 10 most prescribed subgroups accounted for 92.7% of all drugs in 0-1-y-olds and 75.9% in the schoolchildren. The individual prescription of anti-asthmatics increased by 155% (p<0.001), the use of nasal preparations and drugs against cough decreased, and more of the antibiotics were penicillin V. In 0-1-y-olds, prescriptions halved, while they nearly doubled in schoolchildren (p<0.001).
Conclusion: In Nuuk, a unique possibility exists: to be able to study changes in drug use and prescriptions to individual children over time from one health clinic. In the last decade, major changes have occurred regarding the number of drugs, the distribution of therapeutic subgroups, and prescriptions to all age groups. If interpreting from the magnitude of prescriptions, the prevalence of asthma doubled in this period. In summary, this study has revealed changes in prescription that can hardly be explained by changes in disease patterns. Even if unrecognized, this might also be found elsewhere.