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Research Letter
September 2016

Trends in Stimulant Medication Use in Commercially Insured Youths and Adults, 2010-2014

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 3Center for Collaborative Studies, Health Care Service Corporation, Enterprise Clinical Analytics, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Richardson, Texas
  • 4Health Care Service Corporation, Enterprise Clinical Analytics, Enterprise Network Solutions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Chicago, Illinois
  • 5Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 6Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(9):992-993. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1182

Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in youths, and according to a nationally representative US household survey, there has been a sizeable increase in stimulant use among youth, from 4.0% between 1996 and 1998 to 6.6% between 2010 and 2012.1 Also, during the last decade, the US Food and Drug Administration approved an indication for stimulant use in adults to treat ADHD.

Studies of office-based physician visits by adults showed that the proportion of visits with a prescribed stimulant grew 7-fold, from 0.1% between 1994 and 1997 to 0.7% between 2006 and 2009,2 and the percentage of visits with ADHD diagnosis doubled from 0.3% between 1999 and 2002 to 0.7% between 2007 and 2010.3 Also, compared with youth ADHD visits, adult ADHD visits comprised a distinctly larger proportion of female and commercially insured visits.3 However, little is known about the trends in stimulant use within the past few years, specifically within commercially insured US populations. This study uses data from a large, commercially insured population to characterize recent trends and patterns of stimulant use according to age and sex.

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