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Pharmacy Professors' Study Published in Pediatrics, Polypharmacy Trend In ADHD Treatment Acknowledged

Pharmacy FacultyHeather L. Girand, (left) a Professor and assistant department chair for Pharmacy Practice, collaborated with Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Science Minji Sohn (right) in Ferris State University's College of Pharmacy on research published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A COP student, Szymon Litkowiec, supported the study of "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Psychotropic Polypharmacy Prescribing Trends.

Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Science professors in Ferris State University’s College of Pharmacy have had research findings published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their findings focus on psychotherapeutic polypharmacy, or the administering of multiple medications, to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Heather Girand, also a practicing pediatric pharmacist at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, collaborated with Minji Sohn and student researcher Szymon Litkowiec on “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Psychotropic Polypharmacy Prescribing Trends,” which was distributed on Tuesday, June 2 to Pediatrics’ online subscribers.

“Our research into health care data from 2006 to 2015, regarding ADHD patients two to 24 years of age, indicated a growing trend to prescribe medication for these persons with increases in polypharmacy and psychotropic polypharmacy,” Girand said. “Over recent years, I noticed a substantial increase in psychotherapeutic polypharmacy for children in my clinical practice. Our study intended to determine if these observations represented a national trend.”

Girand invited Sohn as a co-investigator, as she had studied pediatric psychological polypharmacy some years earlier.

“Our research indicated that polypharmacy is frequent when treating this age group and that the method was becoming more prevalent,” Sohn said. “Polypharmacy, in itself, is not necessarily indicative of greater benefits for ADHD patients.”

Girand said they hope their research serves as a platform for more significant consideration from the pediatric medical community related to treatment methods offered to these patients.

“We feel there could be questions regarding the effectiveness, appropriateness, and level of patient safety in the treatment of ADHD through the use of two or more medications, including psychotropic drugs,” Girand said. “Chief among those considerations is any long-term implications that could arise for patients whose treatment plan includes polypharmacy.”
“Polypharmacy in ADHD treatment is not evidence-based practice,” Sohn said. “There is a critical need to investigate health outcomes for these patients.”

“We are likely to hear more from pediatricians, pharmacists and other professionals as the journal is distributed to subscribers,” Girand said. “We are both hopeful that this is the genesis of further study.”

“By bringing more eyes and minds to this matter, we seek to encourage greater consideration of polypharmacy and ADHD across the entire pediatric care community,” Sohn said.

Girand concluded with an acknowledgment that she and Sohn are hope that the study is a catalyst for discussion and continued research and that the work is not an indictment on polypharmacy, related to the treatment of ADHD in children and young adults.

“We are glad that a journal so well respected and read by the pediatric community agreed to publish our findings,” Girand said. “We hope this report proves to be valuable for pediatric physicians, pharmacists and other researchers.”