Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Medication
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most pervasive and controversial behavioral problems found in both children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 9% of children between the ages of 5 to 17 and 4.4 percent of adults in the United States suffer from ADHD. Symptoms frequently come in varying degrees of severity, but often include issues with attention span, difficulty with tasks requiring sustained mental effort, hyperactivity, fidgeting, and impulsive behavior. Children who begin exhibiting symptoms before the age of 7 are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
ADHD can be a source of struggle at home, school, or the workplace. Young boys and girls are more likely to grapple with emotional and social problems which may cause the child to underachieve in school. Psychiatric evaluation is required to detect ADHD as there is no empirical blood test or exam available to accurately diagnose the condition. To further complicate the diagnosis process, ADHD symptoms often overlap with other behavioral issues or learning disorders.
The most common drugs used to treat ADHD are FDA approved stimulants derived from amphetamines or methylphenidates. These must be prescribed by a doctor after diagnosis. The most prominent brand name medications are Ritalin and Adderall. While these drugs do not provide a cure for the disorder, they can help to manage symptoms. In the short term, ADHD medication has a 60 to 80% success rate in reducing inattentiveness and hyperactivity in children and teenagers; however, there is little evidence indicating that the use of stimulant drugs to treat ADHD is effective after two years.
Mild side effects associated with stimulant-based medication include decreased appetite, fatigue, mood swings, and nausea, while non-stimulant based drugs may cause tiredness and changes in blood pressure or heart rate. All stimulant-based drugs have been linked to rare incidents of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death, prompting the FDA to implement warning labels. While the risk is generally small, the FDA advises that those with serious heart problems or blood pressure complications should not take stimulant-based ADHD medication. Non-stimulant based drugs can slow down the heart rate which may lead to a condition known as “heart block”, a type of arrhythmia that can lead to further heart complications. Less than 5% of children experience severe side effects that require them to stop their medication regime. There have been few studies evaluating the long-term effects of ADHD drugs.
One particular non-stimulant medication, Strattera (atomoxetine), has been linked to rare, but serious, cases of liver damage and failure as well as suicidal risks. In response, the FDA has strengthened its regulation of Strattera, in particular. Additionally, some evidence suggests that children taking Strattera may have slightly decreased growth rates that may or may not resolve after 3 to 5 years.
Due to their performance improving effects, ADHD medications are frequently subject to abuse, especially by high school and college students without a prescription. Nonmedical use of ADHD drugs is the second most common form of illicit drug use on college campuses. Self-medicating individuals are especially at risk for complications because they may not be aware of some potentially fatal heart conditions that could be triggered by misuse of the medication. Long-term abuse gradually builds up a tolerance in the user, requiring higher dosages to remain effective. This chronic misuse may result in dependence, leading to malnutrition, mental illness, sleep deprivation, or death.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of taking a medication to treat ADHA, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Please fill out the form for a free evaluation of your claim by an experienced attorney.
February 23rd, 2016 | Posted in Blog