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The Business of Attention Deficit Disorder 246

Posted by timothy
from the drug-'em-all-let-god-sort-'em-out dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Alan Schwarz writes in the NYT that the rise of ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years have coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. 'The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it's not. It's preposterous,' says Dr. Keith Conners, a psychologist who has led the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for more than fifty years. Few dispute that classic ADHD, historically estimated to affect 5 percent of children, is a legitimate disability that impedes success at school, work and personal life. But recent data from the CDC show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990." (Read on for more.)
"Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic ADHD to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills' benefits. Advertising on television and in popular magazines like People and Good Housekeeping has cast common childhood forgetfulness and poor grades as grounds for medication that, among other benefits, can result in 'schoolwork that matches his intelligence' and ease family tension. The FDA has cited every major ADHD drug — stimulants like Adderall, Concerta, Focalin and Vyvanse, and nonstimulants like Intuniv and Strattera — for false and misleading advertising since 2000, some multiple times. And although many doctors have portrayed the medications as benign — 'safer than aspirin,' some say — they can have significant side effects and are regulated in the same class as morphine and oxycodone because of their potential for abuse and addiction. Meanwhile profits for the ADHD drug industry have soared. Sales of stimulant medication in 2012 were nearly $9 billion, more than five times the $1.7 billion a decade before, according to the data company IMS Health. 'This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels,' concludes Conners."
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The Business of Attention Deficit Disorder

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