ADHD drug prescriptions continue to rise

The number of prescriptions for the drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has risen by around 50,000 in the past year, new figures reveal.

Prescriptions for Methylphenidate – most commonly sold as Ritalin – rose to 359,100 in 2004, up from 314,320 in 2003.

Responding to the figures, children’s mental health charity YoungMinds said more focus needed to be placed on therapeutic treatments.

Consultation and training manager Lee Miller said the rise was attributable to an increase in clinical awareness of the condition and of the benefits of Ritalin in countering its effects. However, he added that despite its success in treating ADHD, Ritalin should in no way be seen as a cure.

“It is important to look at the broad spectrum of treatments, not just Ritalin, which can be the easy way out and effectively doesn’t include the hard work, therapeutic methods required to change behaviour,” Miller said. 

A spokesperson for the Prescriptions Pricing Authority, which compiles the data, said the rise also coincided with a tendency for clinicians to prescribe smaller amounts of all drugs. Actual quantities of Methylphenidate prescribed rose by just 4.8 per cent over the same period, he said.

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