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Executive Summary

IMPROPER DRUG USE AMONG CHILDREN: ASTHMA TREATMENT NONCOMPLIANCE is highest among the most common conditions treated in children, according to data researched by the National Council on Patient Information and Education and presented in a NCPIE report at a May 2 press briefing in Washington. The report, entitled, "Children and American's Other Drug Problem," notes that noncompliance of up to 78% for oral theophylline in chronic pediatric asthma has been documented. Prescription drug regimen non-adherence is approximately 45% in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, 43% in epilepsy, 43% in pediatric renal transplant patients and about 41% in pediatric cancer, the report observes. NCPIE also points out that 10 studies on children's medicine use shows that in a "typical two-week period," over 13 mil. children take prescription drugs and 46% do not take their drugs correctly. NCPIE Chairman Paul Rogers announced the report's findings. He was accompanied at the briefing by Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sullivan and FDA Commissioner Young. Both Sullivan and Young expressed their support of the report's five recommendations to correct improper drug use among children. The council's campaign, Sullivan said, "is an effort that needs our attention. By acting across a wide front, I believe we can both improve the use of medicine by our children today, and form better lifetime habits for the adults of the future." FDA's Young noted the agency has been working with NCPIE since its formation in 1982 "to encourage patients and health professionals to talk about prescription medications." In 1987, the council engaged in a campaign to improve medication use among the elderly. Directed to "parents, grandparents, caretakers, health care professionals, organizations, the educational system and the media," the recommendations are: ** "improve communication among health care professionals, parents and children about the safe and effective use of medicines;" ** "raise awareness among health professionals of the need to educate children, their parents and caregivers more effectively about how to use medicines properly"; ** "work with the media to raise awareness of the need to improve prescription medicine use among children"; ** commission research on effective communication about medicines among health professionals, parents, children and schools." The report identifies four types of improper drug use among children: halting medication too soon; not taking enough of a medication; refusing a medicine; and taking too much. According to the report, studies have shown that up to 4.6% of pediatric hospital admissions are related to medicines, and up to 44% of problems experienced are "severe or fatal." NCPIE is also planning a health education campaign directed at both the health-care community and at families for the fall "back-to-school" period. Entitled "Speak up for Children: Talk About Prescriptions" the campaign will include print, radio, and TV public service messages and magazine articles. NCPIE will also distribute a "parents' guide" with with tips on safe and effective medicine use.

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