...it's especially evident in our new, burgeoning pharmaceutical market, our children:
Madeira Therapeutics, based in Leawood, Kan., is formulating a liquid statin for children that will be sold in either grape, cherry or bubblegum flavor, according to the company’s chief executive, Peter R. Joiner.This need is further supported, of course, by powerful marketing data supplied by the monstrously profitable prescription services themselves: Medco Health Solutions, Express Scripts, and Verispan:
Madeira became interested in the drug to treat children with a genetic cholesterol condition, familial hypercholesterolemia, which strikes 1 in 500 children regardless of their diet. The recent American Academy of Pediatrics statement adds to the potential market, according to Mr. Joiner.
Express Scripts and Medco developed estimates of how many children might be taking such drugs by extrapolating their data — involving a total of more than four million children — across the broader population.And therefore, because the rates have climbed, it must be okay, right?
The companies use different assumptions to reach their estimates, but the data suggests that at least several hundred thousand children are on various obesity-related medications.
The greatest increase occurred in drugs for Type 2 diabetes, with Medco’s data showing a 151 percent jump from 2001 to 2007.
Medco’s data, released in May, showed that use of drugs to treat acid reflux problems in children, often aggravated by obesity, increased 137 percent over seven years. Its analysis also showed an 18 percent increase in drugs to treat high blood pressure and a 12 percent increase in cholesterol-lowering medications during the seven-year period.
Express Scripts found a 15 percent increase over three years in drugs to treat cholesterol and other fats in the blood, a category that is primarily statins.
“We were amazed at how quickly the rates of drugs used have climbed,” said Dr. Donna R. Halloran, an assistant professor at St. Louis University who worked on the Express Scripts analysis, presented at a meeting of the American Public Health Association in November.
Verispan data recorded a 13 percent increase in high blood pressure prescriptions in the under 19 age group from 2005 to 2007. Its numbers show, however, a less than 1 percent increase during the period in cholesterol-lowering drugs in children.
The suspect nature of these culled data draw into question the message we want to feed (pun intended) our children and families, and pushes public health experts (and even our professional societies) to waddle toward the path of least resistance when it comes to caring for our children.
The issue of childhood obesity is a complicated one, fraught with many challenges. The influence of the fast-food industry, internet gaming industry, drops in funding to support school-based physical education programs, and the complicated socioeconomic challenges of fragmented families, have all coalesced to create the perfect storm of influences to promote weight gain in our children. These problems, it seems, have become insurmountable.
Better to just give 'em a pill.