The makers of drugs used to treat attention disorders have known about the serious health risks associated with the medications for years but instead of warning the public, the industry has consistently focused its efforts on expanding the market and colluding with FDA officials to keep warnings off the labels of ADHD drugs.
On February 21, 2007, the FDA finally directed the drug companies to develop Patient Medication Guides to inform patients about the adverse psychiatric symptoms associated with Adderall, Concerta, Daytrana, Desoxyn, Dexedrine, Focalin, Metadate CD, Methylin, Ritalin, Strattera, and the extended-release, patch and chewable versions of these drugs.
An FDA report titled, "Adverse Events Associated with Drug Treatment of ADHD: Review of Postmarketing Safety Data," by Kate Gelperin and Kate Phelan, was presented at the March 22, 2006, Pediatric Advisory Committee meeting and stated in part:
“The most important finding of this review is that signs and symptoms of psychosis or mania, particularly hallucinations, can occur in some patients with no identifiable risk factors, at usual doses of any of the drugs currently used to treat ADHD.”
Between January 2000, and June 30, 2005, the FDA identified nearly 1,000 cases of psychosis or mania linked to the drugs in its own database and those from the drug makers themselves. A substantial proportion of the cases occurred in children age ten years or less, a population in which hallucinations are not common, the authors said.
"The occurrence of such symptoms in young children," they wrote, "may be particularly traumatic and undesirable, both to the child and the parents."
"The predominance in young children of hallucinations, both visual and tactile," it stated, "involving insects, snakes and worms is striking, and deserves further evaluation."
But the fact that these drugs cause psychosis is not news. The rate of psychotic events was reported in a 5-year Canadian study of children diagnosed with ADHD, by Cherland and Fitzpatrick in 1999. Among the 192 children studied, 98 had been placed on stimulant drugs, mostly methylphenidate, and psychotic symptoms developed in more than 9% of the children and ceased as soon as the medication was stopped.
Researchers reported no psychotic symptoms in children who did not receive stimulants and the authors noted that due to poor reporting, the rate of drug induced psychosis and psychotic symptoms was probably much higher.
Dr Chris Griffith testified at the March 26, 2006, hearing on behalf of the industry funded front group, known as CHADD, and as much as said, kids would burn in hell without ADHD drugs. "What happens when a child loses all hope and ambition;" she asked the panel, "what happens when it is easier to find a vial of crack cocaine or 40 ounces of beer as opposed to a park or community recreation center?"
According to psychiatrist, Dr Stefan Kruszewski, the opposite is true. “Children who are medicated early," he says, "do not learn to develop coping strategies that work as they move through different developmental stages."
"Instead," he says, "they learn to rely on drugs to solve problems, rather than their creative potential to solve problems on their own or with the help of family, friends, schooling, music and the arts, church, social outings, recreation and sports."
Dr Griffith also asked the advisory panel to think about:
"What happens to a future generation of minority youth, African-American, Latino males who disproportionately populate our juvenile justice system? What happens to a teenager's sense of fun when we are dealing with high rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and even abortions?
"Finally, what does it say about all of us? We turn on the news each night and we tragically see young drivers, teenagers, killed in automobile accidents--so many that we forget their names, their faces and their stories. We develop a sense of apathy."
"This may all seem like drama," she stated, but “it is the untold story of what happens when we fail to recognize and treat ADHD.”
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