Drug utilisation among Dutch adolescents: a pharmacy prescription records study

Arch Dis Child. 2019 Aug;104(8):745-748. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2017-314692. Epub 2018 Jun 1.


Background: Studies on adolescent drug use are scarce as most studies do not distinguish between children and adolescents. Therefore, we assessed overall drug use in adolescents.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using pharmacy dispensing records from 62 community pharmacies in the Netherlands. Dispensing records of the previous 5 years were extracted for adolescents (12-18 years).

Results: The study population consisted of 47 421 adolescents who collected at least one medication prescription during adolescence (mean age 15.5±1.8 years; 48.9% males). Half of them collected dermatologicals (46.2% males; 52.3% females), followed by drugs for the respiratory system (43.4% males; 40.3% females) and anti-infectives for systemic use (31.3% males; 39.1% females). The percentage of males using dermatologicals slightly increased, while the percentage of female users decreased with age. The most prescribed active ingredient was methylphenidate.

Conclusions: These insights into adolescent drug use help us to better understand adolescent healthcare use.

Trial registration number: Dutch trial register NTR5061.

Keywords: adolescent health; epidemiology; general paediatrics; pharmacology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adolescent Health Services
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies

Associated data

  • NTR/NTR5061