The Rise of GLP-1 Receptor Agonist Prescriptions Among Adolescents and Young Adults

The Rise of GLP-1 Receptor Agonist Prescriptions Among Adolescents and Young Adults

Recently, there has been a significant surge in the number of adolescents and young adults being prescribed glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, according to data from pharmacy sources. The figures show a staggering increase of 600% in prescriptions for these diabetes or weight-loss medications from 2020 to 2023. It is interesting to note that this surge is in stark contrast to the 3.1% decrease in prescriptions for all other pharmacy drugs in the same age group during the same time period.

The dispensing of GLP-1 agonists saw a notable increase across the board, with girls and young women accounting for a majority of the prescription fills during the study period. This disproportionate dispensing may reflect a societal bias towards weight in females, according to experts. The medications analyzed in the study included dulaglutide, exenatide, liraglutide, semaglutide, and tirzepatide, with variations in approval for different age groups and conditions.

Despite the approval of GLP-1 receptor agonists for weight loss in adolescents in 2022, there is still a lack of knowledge about the use of these medications in younger patients. The study utilized data from the IQVIA Longitudinal Prescription Database, which covers a significant portion of U.S. retail pharmacies. The analysis revealed substantial increases in monthly GLP-1 agonist dispensing among both male and female adolescents and young adults, with certain medications showing a surge in prescriptions for weight management.

Data from 2023 showed that a considerable number of adolescents and young adults dispensed GLP-1 receptor agonists lived in the Southern region of the United States. The majority of adolescents had Medicaid covering their prescriptions, while young adults were more likely to have commercial insurance. The most common prescribers of GLP-1 agonists for adolescents were endocrinologists, followed by nurse practitioners and family medicine providers. In contrast, nurse practitioners were the leading prescribers for young adults, followed by family medicine providers and endocrinologists.

Efforts to promote safe and appropriate prescribing of GLP-1 receptor agonists should involve endocrinologists, family medicine physicians, and nurse practitioners, given their significant roles in dispensing these medications. With a shortage of endocrinologists and obesity medicine specialists, primary care physicians may need more education and training on using this class of medications. Furthermore, there is a need for more research on the long-term side effects and effectiveness of GLP-1 receptor agonists, especially in younger patients with indefinite use, as well as considering additional risks for those of reproductive age.

The rise in GLP-1 receptor agonist prescriptions among adolescents and young adults highlights the increasing demand for these medications in younger populations. However, it also raises concerns about the reasons behind the surge, gender disparities in prescription fills, regional and insurance coverage trends, and the need for safe and appropriate prescribing practices. Moving forward, it is essential to continue monitoring and studying the use of these medications in younger patients to ensure their safety and efficacy.


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