The use of pharmaceuticals in vulnerable populations
Everyone has to use medicine sometimes, but some people are more vulnerable and, thus, more prone to need drug therapy. According to the 2018 National Report on the use of pharmaceuticals in Italy, which collects data from each region,
vulnerable populations include:
Data from OsMed reports on vulnerable populations
In the course of the year, more than 4.8 million children and adolescents, or rather, 49.1% of the general pediatric population, received at least one prescription drug. A similar analysis was applied to a sample of pregnant women from ages 15-49, who gave birth between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2017 and were residents in the Emilia-Romagna, Lazio and Puglia regions on the date they gave birth. The results estimate that 80% of the women received a prescription drug during pregnancy. Among the vulnerable populations, however, the highest percentage of consumption of prescription drugs was recorded among the elderly. The results of analyses done on patients 65 years or older show that 98% of the sample examined (practically everyone), received at least one prescription drug in 2018.
The “preferred” pharmaceuticals among vulnerable populations
The fragility and needs of these three, more sensitive groups are different. As such, the types of medicine they need is different too. The most frequently used medicines among children include respiratory drugs, systematic antimicrobial drugs, hormones (excluding sex hormones) and medication for the central nervous system (anti-epileptic drugs).
The drugs most frequently prescribed during pregnancy include antimicrobial drugs for systematic use, for blood and hematopoietic organs, for the gastrointestinal tract, metabolism and genito-urinary tracts, as well as sex hormones and systematic hormonal preparations. The most frequently used drugs in the elderly, instead, include antithrombotics, lipid-modifying drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, non-steroidal anti-rheumatic drugs and beta blockers.
Differences between men and women in the use of prescription drugs
Studies on the pediatric and geriatric populations have even focused on gender variables. Research was done to find out if the consumption of prescription drugs was the same in the samples of men and women.
In each of the two populations studied, it was found that men consume more drugs than women, even if the difference was quite small. In particular, 49.9% of male children received at least one prescription in 2018 compared to 48.3% of female children, amounting to an average expense of 62.10 euros per user. In the elderly, instead, the average expense per user was significantly higher, amounting to 656 euros for men and 611 euros for women.
Different factors can further influence prescription drug consumption in vulnerable populations, such as the age ranges within the macro samples taken into consideration, the region the person is from, the trimester of pregnancy and many other factors.
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