Prescribing patterns of polypharmacy in Korean pediatric patients

Soo Min Jeon, Susan Park, Sandy Jeong Rhie, Jin Won Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background Several studies have examined the risk and health outcomes related to polypharmacy among the elderly. However, information regarding polypharmacy among pediatric patients is lacking. Objective The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of polypharmacy and its related factors among the pediatric population of South Korea. Methods We used national claim data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service—Pediatric Patients Sample (HIRA-PPS) in Korea originating from 2012 through 2016. Polypharmacy was defined as a daily average of two or more drugs used yearly. Complex chronic conditions (CCCs) were examined to evaluate concomitant chronic diseases in pediatric patients. Age-specific contraindications and potential drug-drug interactions were assessed according to criteria established by the Korea Institute of Drug Safety & Risk Management (KIDS). Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were conducted to analyze the status of polypharmacy and its associated risk factors in pediatric patients. Results The 5-year prevalence of pediatric polypharmacy in pediatric patients was 3.7%. The prevalence of polypharmacy was much higher in younger pediatric patients: 9.5% for patients between the ages of 1–7 years, 0.9% for ages 6–11 years, and 1.1% for ages 12–19 years. Pediatric patients with CCCs, Medical Aid benefits, or a hospital admission history had a significantly higher prevalence of polypharmacy when compared to their counterparts without those conditions. The most commonly prescribed drugs were respiratory agents (29%) followed by anti-allergic drugs (18.7%), central nervous system agents (15.9%), antibiotics (10.1%), and gastrointestinal drugs (7.7%). There was a positive correlation between the daily average number of inappropriate prescriptions and the degree of polypharmacy, especially in pediatric patients between the ages of 1–7 years. Contraindications and potential drug-drug interactions occurred in 11.0% and 10.1% of patients exposed to polypharmacy, respectively. Conclusions One in ten pediatric patients under the age of 7 years was prescribed two or more concurrent drugs on average per day. Furthermore, pediatric patients exposed to polypharmacy showed an increased risk of inappropriate drug use. The implementation of a medication review system that considers pediatric patient polypharmacy exposure would reduce inappropriate drug use and prevent unwanted adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0222781
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Jeon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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