Dispensing of Psychotropic Medications to Australian Children and Adolescents Doubled in Less Than a Decade

The National Tribune recently reported on a Monash University study that found a doubling of “psychotropic dispensing” for Australians aged 18 and younger between 2013 and 2021: 

“The study was led by Dr Stephen Wood, Associate Professor Luke Grzeskowiak and Dr Jenni Ilomaki from the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS) within the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Psychotropic drugs (e.g. antipsychotic, antidepressant, psychostimulant, anxiolytic, and sedative agents) can be prescribed for children and adolescents with mental disorders, including schizophrenia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, depression and anxiety.

The study, published in The Medical Journal of Australia and entitled Dispensing of psychotropic medications to Australian children and adolescents before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2013–2021: a retrospective cohort study found overall prevalence of psychotropic dispensing to children and adolescents was 3.4 per 100 boys and 2.5 per 100 girls in 2013, and 6.0 per 100 boys and 4.8 per 100 girls in 2021.

Dispensing during 2021 was highest for psychostimulants (generally used to treat ADHD) in boys, and antidepressants in girls. Overall, the increases in psychotropic dispensing were greatest among girls aged 13–18 years.”

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