Many Go Untreated
Medications that treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), such as Ritalin and Adderall, are in such short supply in the US that patients have complained that they can’t find pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. The NY Times reports that "the shortages are a result of a troubled partnership between drug manufacturers and the Drug Enforcement Administration, with companies trying to maximize their profits and drug enforcement agents trying to minimize abuse by people." The FDA reports that they’ve “reached out to the DEA ... but the quota issues are outside of our area of responsibility.” A spokesperson for the DEA says, “We believe there is plenty of supply.” Many physicians and patient advocacy organizations say patients are going untreated due to the shortages.
Seek Performance Enhancing Drugs
A new survey, published in the journal The Clinical Neuropsychologist, suggests that one in four adults who seek treatment for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be exaggerating or faking their symptoms. The reasons varied and included wanting to ensure that the doctor gave them the appropriate diagnosis or mistaking their symptoms for ADHD when they in fact were suffering from stress or depression. Many may also fake the disorder to obtain stimulant drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin. These have been used in the past as performance enhancers in students, athletes and others who want to get ahead. The CDC estimates that between 2 and 4 percent of American adults actually have an appropriate ADHD diagnosis.
Abuse Potential Increased
Teens and young adults are twice as likely to receive a prescription for a controlled substance today than they were 15 years ago, conclude researchers from the University of Rochester in New York. The study revealed that in 2007 one out of nine teenagers, plus one out of six young adults in their 20s received prescriptions for drugs with the potential for abuse, including stimulants and sedatives, as well as painkillers. The prescriptions were typically written for back pain or other musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, or injury, reports MSNBC. Other prescriptions, such as Ritalin, were written for psychiatric problems or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Targets Side Effects on the CNS
Drugs like Ritalin may help childhood cancer survivors who often develop long term problems with thinking, memory, attention span, behavior and school performance because of treatments that often target the central nervous system. A study of 122 children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and brain cancer that subsequently developed difficulties with learning and attention was conducted to determine if Ritalin would help. There was a greater improvement in attention, behavior and social skills in about 50 percent of the kids given Ritalin compared to the untreated control group. Data on school performance was not clear as improvement in reading, math and spelling did not differ between the groups. This study does not indicate all childhood cancer survivors should take the drug.
Almost One Million Kids Affected
A new study suggests that approximately one million children may be misdiagnosed with ADHD when they may just be intellectually and emotionally immature compared to their peers. Twelve thousand children were studied and it was found that “the youngest kindergartners were 60 percent more like to be misdiagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children in the same grade.” Spending on prescriptions could be costing 320 to 500 million dollars annually and 80 to 90 percent of it paid for by Medicaid. Ritalin is most commonly prescribed, but the long term health effects which are not known. Elder, lead author of the study believes that teachers perceive poor behavior by the youngest kids in a class as ADHD which lead doctors to diagnose them with the condition.