Overdosing on ADD drugs

8/24/09 – AP
Calls to poison control centers for U.S. teenagers who have overdosed on attention deficit drugs rose 76 percent over eight years, researchers reported.

Millions of people take ADHD drugs including Novartis AG’s Ritalin, known generically as methylphenidate, and Shire Plc’s Adderall and Vyvanse. Annual U.S. sales totaled about $4.8 billion in 2008, according to data from IMS Health.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is marked by restlessness, impulsiveness, inattention and distractibility that can interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention in school and maintain social relationships. Amphetamines or methylphenidate drugs can calm and focus the brain.

Prescriptions of amphetamines rose 133 percent from 1998 to 2003, and abuse of these drugs rose, too, the researchers found. “We’re seeing a disproportionate rise in the calls related to amphetamines,” said Dr. G. Randall Bond, director of the Drug and Poison Information Center at the hospital.

“One thing we don’t know for sure is whether the increased calls for help are the result of simply more abuse or the escalating severity of consequences.”

ADHD affects between 8 percent and 12 percent of children and 4 percent of adults worldwide.

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