The New York Times has a pretty good article on Big Pharma, ADHD, and the drugs prescribed to treat it. Titled “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”, it begins by telling about Dr. Keith Conners, who points out that 15% of high-school aged kids have been diagnosed with it and that the number of children on medication for it has gone from 600,000 in 1990 to 3,500,000 today. One in seven children are diagnosed with ADHD by the age of 18. “The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” says Dr. Conners. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The drugs “can have significant side effects and are regulated in the same class as morphine and oxycodone because of their potential for abuse and addiction.” Side effects include insomnia, loss off appetite, and hallucinations. “Overdosing can cause severe heart problems and psychotic behavior.”
The article discusses how Big Pharma markets these drugs and influences the “science” behind them, such as by paying doctors to publish “research” which is then published in journals that rely heavily on advertising from Big Pharma, and paying doctors deliver presentations encouraging physicians to make the diagnosis of ADHD. And there is no scientific basis for this diagnosis. No blood test. No brain scan. Just a doctor’s opinion. Your kid acts like, well, a kid? Must be ADHD. Here’s some drugs.
One doctor was asked about taking money from Big Pharma to give presentations pushing physicians to prescribe their drugs. He responded by saying that anyone concerned about this practice must “like a good conspiracy theory”. “I don’t let it slow me down,” he added.
The American Psychiatric Association pushes these drugs, unsurprisingly, since it receives significant financing from Big Pharma. It has “gradually loosened the official criteria for the disorder to include common childhood behavior like ‘makes careless mistakes’ or ‘often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.'”
The leading ADHD advocacy group, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or Chadd, isn’t really an “advocacy” group at all, but essentially a marketing firm for Big Pharma. It was founded in 1987 with funding from the primary manufacturer of the drug Ritalin, and its primary sponsors are all drug companies. The chief executive of Chadd preposterously claimed that this didn’t influence their work.