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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Long Term Effects of Stimulant Medication

English: Ritalin (Australian packaging)
With 1 in 9 children (approximately 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17) having been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and more than half of which prescribed a stimulant drug, it may come as a surprise that such drugs are not tested for their long term effects by the drug manufactures, according to new research. Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are heavily tested for efficacy in clinical trials, few tests focus on the long term side effects of children taking these types of medications, according to The Boston Globe.

Investigators at the Boston Children’s Hospital reviewed 32 clinical trials on the 20 ADHD drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Only five of the 32 clinical trials were geared towards the safety of such medications. On average, 75 patients were given the drugs for testing for about four weeks by the manufacturer before the FDA gave their stamp of approval. 

Despite the FDA requesting six follow-up safety studies, only two long term studies were actually conducted. 

“This is a wake-up call for what’s lacking in the drug approval process and what we want to see in the future,” said study co-author Dr. Kenneth Mandl. “Our findings are particularly troubling since these drugs are so widely used and used for years, not weeks.”

Stimulant drugs have a huge potential for abuse and could have a hand in leading to adolescent addiction. Many parents are unaware that the drugs they are giving their children are amphetamine based and after years of taking prescription stimulants, dependence is just about guaranteed.

The findings can be found in the journal PLOS One.

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