Objectives: To investigate the prescribing of systemic drugs for the treatment of acne in adolescents in the period 2005–15.
Methods: The study population consisted of 14–24-year-old users of tetracyclines, isotretinoin or hormonal therapy retrieved from the Norwegian Prescription Database. The 1 year period prevalence was calculated as the number of patients who had redeemed at least one prescription during the year divided by the mean population. If the user had no prescriptions in the preceding 12 months he/she was defined as a new user. The incidence rate was defined by the number of new users during the year divided by the mean population.
Results: Increased prescribing rates for systemic tetracyclines and isotretinoin were observed in the period 2005–15, while a decreased prescribing rate for hormonal therapy was observed from 2007. The majority (75%) of the tetracycline prescriptions were prescribed by general practitioner specialists or physicians with no specialty/under training for a specialty. The average durations of treatment in men and women who only used tetracyclines were 3.3 and 2.8 months, respectively. For men and women that switched to isotretinoin, the average durations of treatment were 4.3 and 3.9 months.
Conclusions: The increased use of systemic tetracyclines in general, and the prolonged use of tetracyclines in patients who later switch to isotretinoin, raise the question of whether isotretinoin treatment should be considered at an earlier stage to reduce the use of systemic tetracyclines.