Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness recently conducted a study examining the use of multiple prescription concurrent central nervous system (CNS)-active drugs.
The research revealed that doctors are prescribing combinations of drugs classified as Schedule II controlled substances without robust combined clinical trial testing– resulting in a greater risk of physical or psychological dependence.
The study, which has since been published in BMJ Open, specifically analyzed patterns of medical methylphenidate and amphetamine drug use. Both of these substances are known to have increased potential for physical or psychological addiction.
To do this, the team used prescription drug claims from a commercial insurance claims database– which is home to over 9.1 million enrolled adults. However, the researchers utilized claims for United States adults between the ages of 19 and 64 and focused on stimulant use.
An adult met the criteria for stimulant use if they filled one or more prescriptions for a stimulant within one year.
In 2020, the study revealed that 276,223 people were prescribed Schedule II stimulants. In fact, eight prescriptions was the median number of prescriptions filled– providing exposure for 227 days.
Within this group, 45.5%– or 125,781 individuals– also used a combination of one or more CNS-active drugs for a median duration of 213 days.
Additionally, about 24.3% of stimulant users– or 66,996 individuals– were prescribed two or more additional CNS-active drugs with a median duration of 182 days.
And among the entire group of stimulant users, about 47.6% of individuals used antidepressants; meanwhile, 30.8% of people filled drug prescriptions for anxiety, sedative, or hypnotic medications, and 19.6% filled opioid prescriptions.