USA Today (3/13, Painter) reports that according to a new position paper published online March 13 in the journal Neurology, physicians “should not give in to pressure to prescribe medications that might boost mental performance in healthy children and teens.” The position paper “focuses mostly on inappropriate use of Ritalin [methylphenidate], Adderall [amphetamine, dextroamphetamine mixed salts] and other stimulant medications commonly used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).” These medicines “are sought out by some parents, teens and college students as grade-boosting ‘study drugs.'”
The Hartford (CT) Courant (3/13, Weir) reports that the authors of the position paper contend that the overprescription of stimulant medications “poses both health risks and ethical concerns: the long-term effects of the medications are unknown, the practice creates the potential for over-medication and dependency, and it jeopardizes the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship.” The Courant quotes the paper’s lead author, Dr. William Graf, of the Yale School of Medicine, who said, “You have ethics and professional integrity to consider.”
On its website, CBS News (3/14, Jaslow) reports, “In recent years, a growing number of students have used the medications as ‘study drugs’ to take before tests, and in turn, more parents are requesting AD/HD drugs for kids who don’t meet the criteria for the disorder.” A study published last June in the journal “Pediatrics found the number of AD/HD drug prescriptions for children under 17 climbed 46 percent from 2002 to 2012. Methylphenidate – a psychostimulant drug for AD/HD sold generically or as Ritalin and Concerta – was the top prescription dispensed to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.”
The NBC News (3/13, Rettner) “Vitals” blog runs a MyHealthNewsDaily story that reports, “Over the last two decades, there’s been a 20 percent increase in AD/HD diagnoses, and a tenfold increase in the production and consumption of AD/HD medications.” Still, “whether doctors are intentionally prescribing AD/HD drugs to healthy kids, or whether they mistakenly diagnose the children with AD/HD based on children’s reports of their own symptoms, is not clear.” Adolescents “may fake symptoms of the behavioral disorder, or parents may lie to doctors for their children to get the drugs.”
CNN (3/13, Christensen) reports that AD/HD medications may “have serious side effects like cardiac risks, and taking them can be addictive.” Yet, despite the potential for physical side effects and abuse, Dr. Mark Wolraich, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical practice guideline subcommittee on AD/HD, is concerned that some parents “may be too nervous to seek treatment for their children with AD/HD, for whom the drugs would actually be beneficial.”
Also covering the story are Reuters (3/14, Pittman), the Connecticut Post (3/14, Cuda), HealthDay (3/14, Gray), and Medscape (3/14, Anderson).
— “Don’t give kids ADHD drugs as study aid, doctors warn, “Kim Painter, USA Today, March 13, 2013.