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Beware the Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder

Published on Jan 31, 2014 at 8:27 am in Dangerous Drugs.

Does the growth in diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) mean we’re amidst a true epidemic? Parents may want to know that a leading physician behind the original recognition of ADHD as a legitimate disorder is now appalled at how pharmaceutical companies are pushing their drugs onto parents to cure what in many cases are normal childhood behaviors.

Few now question the legitimacy of ADHD and how it can be a disability to achieving basic assignments in school or at work. But the historical percentage of people actually having the disorder was thought to be 5%. Now, one in seven children will be diagnosed with ADHD by the time they reach 18. Currently, 3.5 million children are given drugs for the disorder.

Pharmaceutical Companies’ Agenda

“The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Keith Conners said to The New York Times. Conners is a psychologist and an early advocate of ADHD recognition. He went on to say, “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”

Conners questioned the rates of diagnosis and warned they were a “national disaster of dangerous proportions.”

For those who truly suffer from ADHD, medication can curb what is severe impulsive behaviors and an inability to concentrate. Now, ADHD is the second-most commonly diagnosed long-term condition for children, behind asthma. Sales of stimulants have increased more than four-fold over the last decade, from $2 billion in 2002 to $8 billion in 2012.

The pharma industry’s aggressive campaign during the last 20 years not only publicizes the condition, but promotes drugs as a solution. There’s no question the industry has reaped huge profits in marketing to children, and now it’s turning its attention to marketing pills for adults.

Medicating Natural Childhood Behaviors?

The New York Times article shows how the pharma companies now market their drugs as a solution for parents to get their children to do their homework and “reduce family tensions.”

In many ways, the ads make the drug sound like a substitute for parenting. The New York Times uses the example of an Adderall ad depicting a mother telling her son, “Thanks for taking out the garbage.”

It may surprise parents to know that the Food and Drug Administration has cited every major ADHD drug for false and misleading advertising at one time or another. These drugs include the class of stimulants, such as Adderall, Concerta, Focalin, and Vyvanse, and the class of non-stimulants, including Intuniv and Strattera.

If you have a child you believe may truly suffer from ADHD, or have adult symptoms yourself, you should beware that doctors are being paid by the pharmaceutical companies to promote the drugs. Try to find an objective opinion. And you may want to educate yourself about the drugs being advertised and inquire into behavioral and other treatments that don’t require medication.