Prescribing practices in the treatment of wasting: secondary analysis from a randomised trial.

Susan M Rattigan Kyra H Grantz Kerstin Hanson Celine Langendorf Fatou Berthé Rebecca Grais et al.
BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2024;0:e000785. doi:10.1136/bmjnph-2023-000785. Epub 2024 03 08


INTRODUCTION: Current guidelines for the outpatient treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) recommend the provision of routine medications to all children at admission and prescribed medications as clinically indicated thereafter. The objective of this study was to describe the amount and purpose of medications prescribed during outpatient SAM treatment and explore the effect of routine antibiotics at admission on subsequent medication prescription.

METHODS: Medications prescribed during outpatient treatment were described by medication category, time from admission, and diagnoses among children with SAM in a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of 7-day amoxicillin use. Total medications were compared by parent trial intervention arm (amoxicillin vs placebo) and differences assessed using Χ2 and two-sample t-tests.

RESULTS: Of the 2399 children enrolled, 74.6% of children received ≥1 prescribed medication during outpatient treatment. Antipyretics/analgesics (44.1% of children), antimalarials (56.6%) and antibiotics (30.0%) were prescribed most frequently. Children who received placebo in the parent trial received fewer total medications (mean difference: −0.80, 95% CI: −0.96 to –0.65) and oral antibiotics (mean difference: −0.96, 95% CI: −0.99 to –0.92) during treatment compared with children who received routine amoxicillin.

CONCLUSIONS: We found high rates of medication prescription during outpatient treatment for SAM, but fewer total medications and oral antibiotics prescribed to children receiving placebo in the parent trial. Our findings underscore the role of outpatient treatment programmes as an important source of medicine prescription and suggest that provision of antibiotics on a clinically indicated basis for outpatient SAM cases may be a strategy to support prudent antibiotic use in certain settings.