Knowledge gap in child medicine use

CMI information gaps fuelling patient drug knowledge deficit

Inconsistencies in Consumer Medication Information provided by different brands generate high levels of uncertainty about medicine use and safety among patients, a new Australian study reveals.

In addition, the study found high levels of concern about the paediatric use of paracetamol.    

Analysis of 14,753 paediatric-related calls to the NPS Medicine Line service showed there were a number of key knowledge gaps, mainly relating to “breastfeeding safety in infants, dosing issues in younger children and interaction concerns in adolescents.”

One primary area of concern they highlighted was in the inconsistent information provided by CMI.

The authors, from the University of Queensland School of Pharmacy and Mater Pharmacy Services, said this inconsistency contributes to consumer uncertainty regarding medication use and may prompt health-seeking behaviour.

“The fact that there were inconsistencies between CMI brands of the same generic medicines as well as inconsistencies between advice in CMI and evidence-based sources… suggests that this is a legitimate concern for both consumers and health professionals,” the authors said.  

“Differing recommendations between CMI brands would be likely to generate consumer confusion if brand substitution occurred.”

They said there was no requirement for manufacturers to routinely update CMI information to reflect information currency, nor any mandated quality and consistency of content between brands.

In addition, CMI failed to adequately address risk in specific population groups, such as children or breastfeeding women, they added.  

The study also revealed contained a large number of calls concerning the safety of paediatric paracetamol use.

“An unexpected but significant finding was the high number of enquiries concerning paracetamol across all age ranges,” the authors said.

“As health professionals generally perceive paracetamol as a ‘safe’ OTC medicine, they need to be made aware of this phenomenon.”

There seemed to be a temporal association between heightened care giver concern (needing information in times of uncertainty to balance medication risk or ‘getting the dose right’ against risk of failing to treat, they said.

The study was published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

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