Geographic Trends in Pediatric Psychotropic Medication Dispensing Before and After the Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Greta Bushnell, Jenny W. Sun, Susan dosReis, Wendy Camelo Castillo, Angela S. Czaja, Geneviève Durrieu, Tobias Gerhard, Haeyoung Lee, Florentia Kaguelidou, Sangita Pudasainee-Kapri, Sudha R. Raman, O'Mareen Spence, Daniel B. Horton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This study examined trends and geographic variability in dispensing of prescription psychotropic medications to U.S. youths before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Using national data on prescription medication dispensing, the authors performed a cross-sectional study examining the monthly percent change in psychotropic medications dispensed (total N=95,639,975) to youths (ages 5-18 years) in 2020 versus 2019, across medication classes and geographic regions. RESULTS: For many medications, more were dispensed in March 2020 than in March 2019 and fewer in April-May 2020 versus April-May 2019. Stimulants had the largest decline: -26.4% in May 2020 versus May 2019. The magnitude of the monthly percent change varied by region. CONCLUSIONS: Fewer psychotropic medications were dispensed to U.S. youths after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with 2019. Although some medication classes rebounded to prepandemic dispensing levels by September 2020, dispensing varied by class and region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-884
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatric services (Washington, D.C.)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Adolescence
  • COVID-19
  • General child psychiatry
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • Trends


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