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How big pharma sells A.D.H.D

  • A NY Times feature looks at drug companies' wildly successful and wildly aggressive marketing campaign for A.D.H.D. treatments like Adderall (made by Shire (SHPG)) and Ritalin (made by Novartis (NVS)). Recently, companies have begun targeting adults.
  • Recent data show that 15% of high school-age children are now diagnosed with A.D.H.D., and that the number of children taking medication has soared to 3.5M from 600K in 1990. One doctor calls the rising rates of diagnosis "a national disaster of dangerous proportions."
  • The FDA has cited every major A.D.H.D. drug - including Adderall, Concerta (JNJ), Focalin (NVS, CELG) and Vyvanse (SHPG) - for false and misleading advertising since 2000, some multiple times.
Comments (31)
  • I have ADHD. I lost 43 cell phones before I started treatment, not lost anything since. I'm staying on the meds.
    15 Dec 2013, 05:44 PM Reply Like
  • Keep diluting the definition, and eventually everyone will either be autistic, ADHD or both..... gotta sell those drugs!
    15 Dec 2013, 05:46 PM Reply Like
  • the big scam among the elite is to get your kid diagnosed w/ something like ADHD so that they are entitled to "special" classes w/ reduced class size and after class tutors on the taxpayers dime.


    Pretty easy to doctor shop until you get the result you want. A lot easier to ace all your classes when you game the system in your favor.


    If you cant tell already, it pisses me off.


    why else can you account for the ADHD case count going parabolic? Lots of parents want their kids to go to the better colleges and will do anything and everything to help little johnny "succeed"
    15 Dec 2013, 06:56 PM Reply Like
  • I have been teaching public school in New York state for the last 25 years.
    While the number of students taking medication has risen over that time, I have never known of a student being medicated to "take advantage" of special education classrooms or tutors. While I am bound by confidentiality and can't mention specifics, I will say that the students that I have taught who were taking medication for ADHD certainly benefitted from it. Getting the proper dose is critical and varies greatly from student to student. Perhaps being in rural western NY is very different from other regions. I have never known a "stand-in" take the ACT or SAT, but I know it happens. Just because I am unaware of it occurring doesn't mean it can't happen.
    I am hoping that the parabolic increase in ADHD patients is never tied to environmental factors. Diet can be so critical to young learners. The lack of nutrition and quality food choices is shocking to me.
    I did not come to argue. I just wanted to share some of what I have experienced in my profession.


    Have a great evening.
    15 Dec 2013, 07:58 PM Reply Like
  • Deercreek - i speak from first hand knowledge from my experience in Miami........all places are different. Impossible to broad brush everything. I am sure many and possibly even most kids in that situation are legit.
    FYI - i do not believe you have to be medicated to get an ADHD diagnosis. And at least in Miami, that is all you need. you dont need to prove you're taking anything. for those that truly need the meds, i am sure they help a lot.


    Anyhow, all the best
    15 Dec 2013, 08:35 PM Reply Like
  • Thanks for the comment.


    Enjoy the weather in south Florida. Lake Effect snow pounding WNY.


    The best to you as well.
    15 Dec 2013, 08:41 PM Reply Like
  • If a med doesn't improve your condition - even if that condition is 'iffy' to begin with - don't most people stop taking that medication? I know I would.


    People like to laugh at diseases like ADHD or restless leg syndrome or fibromyalgia, but if you have the disease, it's not really funny. So I've never understood why people without the disease belittle the disease and those who have it.
    15 Dec 2013, 08:31 PM Reply Like
  • Very true P Man. And some do not always stop, they take it for the side effects, I have known people to take it just to lose weight, even if it does not help them focus which is the intended use.
    15 Dec 2013, 11:42 PM Reply Like
  • ADHD is a phase of Autistic Spectral Disorders that run from mild hyperactivity up to full blown autism. There is no difficulty in diagnosing autism. The problem comes at the very mild end of the spectrum and is very difficult to distinguish from out of control kids d/t lax parenting. Unfortunately there is no definitive test like blood sugar for diabetes so errors are made in the best of hands. As a pediatrician of 50 yrs, I predate Ritalin therapy. In kids who need it, this class of medicines is a god send so be charitable to the kids who take it. I agree that it is over used but on balance, it is excellent.
    As for promoting use in adults, there is evidence of higher accident rates in drivers who had ADHD as kids.
    Finally, if you don't need the Ritalin type drugs, I don' believe that they will enhance performance in any way. They probably will make you somewhat hyper.
    15 Dec 2013, 09:08 PM Reply Like
  • From first hand experience, I would disagree with one aspect of that comment, growing up and being around other kids, especially in high school and college, the college students especially have tried to take advantage of these medications. For instance, in kids who do not "need" it, the effects have seemed to be amplified. I am in no way a professional on this subject but speaking from observations over the years, that is what the effects have seemed like.
    15 Dec 2013, 11:45 PM Reply Like
  • ADHD is a co-morbidity factor for autism and is not part of Autism specifically as a 'phase'. The word phase intimates that it is soemthing that comes and goes. There are brilliant people who are ADHD - some manage fine with out medications, some take medications as adults occasionally while some take it daily for work. What is found is that adults who need medication and take it stay in relationships longer, manage there jobs better without being fired. The majority of your ADHD kids and adults are high IQ's.
    16 Dec 2013, 01:30 AM Reply Like
  • It is RAMPANT and EASY for the kids- more than pot and pills but not alcohol. Also depends where u live- POVERTY n DIVERSION or FOR an A+ TEST EDGE at middle/upper middle where 90%+ go onto top tier colleges on a full paid parental express ride vs loans, work, and such. Kids start using early, as well, in affluent areas, particularly siblings in highly regarded systems all over the US.


    Example- I never heard of this as a student till college, but went to a top tier district where the usual social drugs were accepted and such by those who wanted, and nobody applied pressure to use, our children are sneaks.... Just like adults around the K Cup office machine in any office gossip and spread news to leapfrog - or if lucky, just to converse, for we are not all bad people...
    18 Dec 2013, 09:10 AM Reply Like
  • Look at the recent book "Lead Wars". Among many other problems, even a tiny exposure to lead (mostly from paint) can cause damage. And one of the types of damage documented to occur following lead exposure is ADHD. Tragic that the lead paint problem continues. My granddaughter was exposed.
    15 Dec 2013, 09:34 PM Reply Like
  • This is another topic but totally true re lead issues. Most cities are full of lead, it is everywhere. No asbestos litigation though thus the dated 1980's flyers and self projects turn toxic if not done correctly. We had a chimney repointed, cement is 65+ years old, all wore masks cause the workers had no idea what was in the mix (coal ash. trash, waste).
    18 Dec 2013, 09:13 AM Reply Like
  • ADHD is real. When someone takes a dose of Adderall and falls asleep ten minutes later you know they have a different brain chemistry. I have seen a remarkable change for the better in people close to me who have been diagnosed with ADHD and regularly take ADHD meds. I however have a hard time believing that 15% of high school children have ADHD.
    15 Dec 2013, 09:35 PM Reply Like
  • And when the women must stop to prevent birth defects, what do we do?
    17 Dec 2013, 12:19 AM Reply Like
  • amphetamine is the new caffeine
    15 Dec 2013, 09:37 PM Reply Like
  • A very close relative of mine was diagnosed with ADHD while a student in college where he was having academic trouble. After getting treatment with the proper drug therapy he was able to complete his college work successfully. He graduated after five years and has recently found gainful employment in his field.
    This was no scam and he didn't receive any special consideration by the college or anyone else. His father paid in full for the diagnosis and treatment which was quite successful.
    I bothers me mightily to hear people ranting about physical and mental conditions of which they have no knowledge whatever!
    15 Dec 2013, 09:38 PM Reply Like
  • A child we knew was completely wild until ADHD meds enabled him to calm down, stay in his seat, and pay attention in school. It wasn't easy, but he is now in college and getting straight A's. His parents paid for his diagnosis and meds; he got no preference in getting into college. What is the difference between someone with high cholesterol taking cholesterol lowering meds and a child with ADHD taking ADHD meds? I'm just glad they are there for children and adults who need them. Unfortunately, there are always crooked lawyers looking to get rich by suing the drug companies.
    15 Dec 2013, 10:41 PM Reply Like
  • just take pure unmolested fish oil with fatty acids intact with DHA and EPA. Fatty acid make up a sizable portion of brain matter serving as interconnects and neurotransmission hubs.


    Nature has coevolved thusly. For society to treat pharma a worthy substitute is simply laziness in critical thinking
    15 Dec 2013, 11:56 PM Reply Like
  • of course pharma works but then to assume our bodies have ADHD because of inherent defect lacking or requiring pharma is where the laziness in though creeps in. Evolutionary biology suggests otherwise.
    15 Dec 2013, 11:58 PM Reply Like
  • This makes absolutely no sense.
    16 Dec 2013, 12:21 AM Reply Like
  • Over the years I have definitely seen an increase in these meds. Especially in adults. When I was in school and college I had to buckle down and study. Worked my arse off. I could easily answer in the positive to the ADD questions, mind wanders when reading text books, starting and not finishing projects before moving on to the next, etc. it was because the text books were freaking boring. But if I wanted to pass with decent grades I had to put the time in and work - not take amphetamines!
    I also find it weird with 'newly' diagnosed 45-60 year olds. The excuse is they had it undiagnosed when they were kids (like me). Well now that you are that old, established in your career or heck, ending your career, why do you need uppers now?
    Another thing to watch out for is once you get on these type of meds it is not long before your one med turns into two or three. Soon you need clonazepam for the anxiety you'll start having from the stimulants and zolpidem for the insomnia. It never ends with just one.
    15-20 years ago these types of meds made up 10% of the scripts a typical pharmacy would dispense. Now it is 50% and there are shortages because of the over use of said drugs. As a previous poster mentioned it is the new caffeine.
    16 Dec 2013, 01:10 AM Reply Like
  • well, have to say I did not believe these kids even needed the Meds! But my grandson was wild, nothing worked, til he got meds for ADHD! maybe all the kids do not need the medication that receive it! But I did have to change my thought on the subject.
    16 Dec 2013, 03:07 AM Reply Like
  • DIVERSION and POVERTY- Follow the story: I have an example of a Doc who works with abused, impoverished and otherwise exploited children under 18. Was sent a warning letter, wanting a time consuming audit, explanation accounting for scripts. It contained an implied criminal threat, 'F THEM - I'm the doctor, medicines are for people, these medicines work treating my patients, to the best I can treat such patients when called for' What did you do? I asked. I shredded it, I was pissed off. (I don't think so, perhaps tore to pieces) That was about the response. Seriously, A warning that x percentage of all ADHD meds in a particular area (not my zip computer trackers) is from one said office (and ignorantly, a Hospital). Singled out for being in charge of a 'heavy prescriber' population, questioned as a bad apple, bad person, doctor criminal in effect. Awful, plain and simple awful.


    Ok- here is the kicker- THE GOVT FUNDS THE PRACTICE (Hospital) The gov't created the glut itself by the very nature of our overwhelmed system. These kids are a mess, yes. Many have witnessed crimes and abuse all hours of life, the ones prescribed genuinely need ADHD meds, the most neglected, abused, horrid households. No private school for Johnny happening, let alone warm clothing. When you work in such an overwhelmed institution, cries for help over the years ... think you done good, what a nice way to wind down a career. Never heard a word from anyone as a follow up either. Hmmm.


    What is later found out was many of the kids are shipped in all over the US to such facilities with directions how to score. They sell for cash, food, crack and cookies. It is not limited to one race or ethnicity, Perhaps muster up the resources to test these kids, or make sure they do get it, like a methadone clinic? I wouldn't bother, this war on everyone is a waste in my eyes. So maybe that's the only way to stop this. Pharma, gov't workers, jails, the entire system has NO true agenda stemming the street trade, or friendly neighborhood drug swap. All are too involved and raking it in.


    The issue is diversion- the system itself has provided a clear path, literature for people who can't read, parents rich and poor; who are taking for pleasure, selling, not getting to the kids.The gov't sending letters and threats but providing no money, options for anyone. Of course its easily found, abused, sought after and generic or free. Another great example why gov't has no idea nor right to doctor, let alone single out. There is no cure for our drug fueled society, cycles. DIVERSION is the issue, just as with pain meds. Why don't they mandate drug testing not for weed, but for the medicines in question? No, let us save that for food stamps so crime can really stop. As it is the closed, secretive society of an inner city, aspiring suburban parents that create problems to start. NO difference in suburbia, just different motivations. Doctors do not like to be told how to practice. They should not be told how. My Grandfather had jars of pills in his home office with no rules and regulations. He died shoveling snow soon after closing the office after a solid days worth of noble work, never tried to cheat the system let alone profit from it. Really a good man, only lie was to get into the Navy underage to serve and become the first doc of many for us (first degree, as well). When he died, early, they closed down highways due to the lines of cars filled with people he got off street drugs, the families that survived came out in droves because he was brave enough, to dodge gang wars and treated all fairly, many for free.


    This true example is in a mainly gov't funded hospital setting where all is tracked. The fact is, ADHD abuse is more rampant, accepted, encouraged. It boosts productivity, like JFK took speed, pain shots for his back. By an industry and infrastructure who teaches all how to get it. Exactly what to say. It is worse than pain meds. Don't tread on me no longer means anything, crush n snort, that is what is wanted, do more, be more, produce more, pay less. Poverty state keeping the private school party rocking. America. Great investment, this issue isn't ending anytime soon, stay long and strong.
    16 Dec 2013, 02:24 AM Reply Like
  • Nobody has mentioned that most meth heads started on "meth light" ADHD drugs. I see it all the time. ronph has it right.
    16 Dec 2013, 02:55 AM Reply Like
  • Once "diagnosed" by a school (really, a school?) the child is then labeled as "learning disabled/challenged/ect".
    This allows the school to bill the state at a much higher rate to educate the child.
    Be very, very careful with this stuff.
    16 Dec 2013, 04:35 AM Reply Like
  • That is not how it works.


    The school makes a determination that the student has a problem with learning and/or behavior. They may obtain permission from the parents to have the child see a physician of their own choosing, and the information provided this doctor is included as part of working up an IEP document which is used as a contractual agreement between the parents and the child study team in working up a plan to effectively educate the child. In addition, the school will generally request that the parents see their own physician(s) and/or other practitioners. Medications and treatment are obtained only in this way.


    Posting incredulous responses to falsified (or should I be generous and call them 'misunderstood') situations helps nobody.
    16 Dec 2013, 07:45 AM Reply Like
  • I wish there was a medication that could cure conspiracy theorists.
    16 Dec 2013, 02:43 PM Reply Like
  • Didn't you hear ..... they are out there. Wooooooo..... :)
    16 Dec 2013, 09:34 PM Reply Like
  • Not at all how it works at many places, though I can't say this isn't true some places. At my school, it was jokingly called Happy Valley during the winter, at one point, cause it was so easy for a student to get about whatever they so desired, no parental anything needed at age 18, you are an adult. I do know that the agreement you speak of is more readily signed, procedures are updated, and the kids are under parents insurance til 26. But still, that does nothing to prevent an adult from seeking outside medical care, mental health care, drug dependency treatment- in private. Just a note, I don't disagree with your post entirely, but it is not 'the' only method. Ask about any college kid, call any college staffed medical facility, I think you can also look at the studies around all the horrid school shootings where the system you mention completely failed all, and some will say due to the fear of such falsified information making those with the knowledge of a 'dangerous' person stay quiet. - Again, just an added thought, not a blanket statement for all. Thank you for reading.
    16 Dec 2013, 09:42 PM Reply Like
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