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Guidance for GPs on giving children inhaled steroids

3 June 2008

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GPs are to be given detailed guidance on the prescribing of inhaled steroids in children after high doses resulted in a number of deaths.

The number of children between the ages of five and 12 being given high-dose inhaled steroids rose from 1.1% in 1992 to 4.6% in 2004, figures from the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) show. Over the same period, there was a fall – from 10.6% to 4.5% – in prescriptions of high-dose therapy for the under-5s.

The trend has prompted the publication of new guidance this summer by the General Practice Airways Group (GPAG) which will include detailed advice on “off-label” prescribing of the steroids.

“The dangers of high-dose ICS in children has become more apparent recently after a number of high-profile deaths in the UK, due to adrenal suppression,” study leader Dr Mike Thomas told the magazine Pulse.

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He said that high doses of inhaled steroids left children more likely to develop side-effects, which could ultimately lead to death.

“The fact is that this is off-licence. If a GP does prescribe that and a patient comes to harm, it would be very hard to mount a rational defence,” he said.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

General Practice Research Database

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