Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Foundation says doctors over-prescribing for kids

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Doctors are prescribing redundant and excessive levels of medicines for children, according to the results of a survey released yesterday by the Taiwan Health Reform Foundation.

Of the 15 prescriptions that the foundation sampled, 13 were determined to be improper.

Eleven contained at least five kinds of medicines, although some had as many of 13.

Cocktails

As many of the medicines prescribed are compound drugs, 10 prescriptions contained a mix of more than seven different ingredients, with one containing as many as 17 different chemicals.

For example, a prescription issued by a clinic in northern Taiwan for a two-year-old child contained four kinds of anti-diarrhea agents, two kinds of cough-remedy and expectorants, two kinds of anti-inflammatory agents and two kinds of antihistamimes.

A prescription issued by a doctor's clinic in the south for a five-year-old child contained four kinds of cough-remedy and expectorants, three kinds of antihistamines and three kinds of sympathomimetic agents.

Meanwhile, five prescriptions contained medicines whose licenses have been revoked by the Department of Health, including cisapride, scanol, actifed and periactin.

Cisapride was banned two years ago after deaths related to the drug were reported both at home and abroad.

Theophylline -- a kind of bronchodilator that is not intended for children under the age of one or children simply suffering from a cold or the flu -- was found in some of the prescriptions.

Age limits

Also found in the prescriptions were codeine, dexchlorpheniramin and chlorpheniramin -- two kinds of antihistamines -- that are not recommended for children under the age of two.

In another problem discovered by the foundation, two prescriptions contained both enteric-coated tablets and antacids -- medications that are not supposed to be taken together.

Some of the prescriptions contained anti-diarrheal drugs that prohibit the free movement of the bowels, as well as gas-relief drugs that stimulate gastrointestinal motility.

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