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ADHD Experts Head To Washington - Is the FDA Up To The Task?

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Message Evelyn Pringle
Heavy-hitters from across the country are heading to Washington this month to debate representatives of the pharmaceutical industry during FDA hearings on the controversy surrounding the over-prescribing of attention deficit drugs to children.

The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP) will be represented by five of the leading experts on attention deficit disorders at the FDA's Pediatric Advisory Committee's meeting on March 22, to include Dr Fred Baughman, Dr Peter Breggin, Dr S DuBose Ravenel, Dr Grace Jackson, MD, and Dr David Stein. These experts combined have authored hundreds of books, papers and reports on attention deficit disorders.*

And all five have one common goal; to put an end to the drugging for profit of the nation's most vulnerable citizens and pharma's most lucrative customer base - innocent children.

Dr Baughman says drugging kids is commonplace today. "Its happening all across country not by thousands but tens of thousands, picking most on the disenfranchized, powerless," he warns.

"These children become for-profit receptacles for psychiatric drugs," he says, "which will, undoubtedly alter their bodies and brains."

The harm caused by these medications is well-documented. Although the FDA staff reports shows 51 deaths between 1999-2003 in persons using ADHD drugs, according to Dr Baughman, the MedWatch database contains 186 deaths between 1990 and 2000. Because only 1% to 10% of all adverse events are reported to the FDA, the actual number of deaths is known to be much higher.

Studies have determined that ADHD drugs endanger the cardiovascular system and according to Dr Jackson, "the cardiovascular risks of stimulants are hardly new."

"As early as 1977," she says, "Drs. Vernon Fischer and Hendrick Barner documented the cell changes associated with heart muscle enlargement in a chronic consumer of Ritalin."

"The connection between stimulants, cardiovascular disability, and death has long been documented in the medical literature," Dr Jackson notes, "but physicians and government regulators have refused to acknowledge the hazards associated with prescriptions."

Dr Jackson takes exception with FDA officials who say warnings on ADHD drugs are unnecessary and that their benefits outweigh their risks.

"Whether by ignorance or design," Dr Jackson states, "the regulators remain oblivious to the evidence-based limitations of the prescription pad: at least 40% of all children fail to tolerate or respond to stimulant therapy; about twice as many respond at least as well to non-pharmacological interventions; and, as documented in the National Institute of Mental Health's most prestigious study to date (the MTA study), the long term outcomes for medicated children demonstrate diminishing returns over time, persistent suppression of growth (about 1 cm per year), and artificial behavioral improvements which dissipate when treatment is withdrawn."

"Not surprisingly," she says, "the world community observes the United States with alarm for the unjustified chemical exploitation of those who are different, but not diseased."

Dr David Stein also rejects the pill solution, and promotes a parent training program called the caregivers' skills program that helps children learn appropriate behavioral and cognitive skills permanently, without drugs. For over twenty-five years, he has conducted workshops providing realistic, practical and effective alternatives to stimulant medications.

Dr DuBose Ravenel agrees with Dr Stein's overall assessment that "this behavioral syndrome likely represents basically a culturally derived phenomenon rather than a biological or neurological one."

He stresses the importance of providing positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior while dealing with oppositional behavior and encourages fellow professionals to employ Dr Stein's approach when dealing with children with attention deficit problems.

ADHD drugs are known to have serious adverse psychological effects on children which is one of the main reasons Dr Breggin is dead against giving stimulants to kids. "That we are doing this," he says, "I believe, is ethically and scientifically wrong."

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.
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