ADHD :: ADHD drug use in US rose among ages 20-44

The use of attention deficit drugs rose nearly 19 percent among adults between the ages 20 to 44 in 2005, while the use of these drugs fell 5 percent in children under the age of 10, according to statistics released on Tuesday amid a U.S. review of the drugs’ safety.

An estimated 1.7 million U.S. adults ages 20 to 64 and nearly 3.3 million children and adolescents took a prescription drug to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2005, according to a report from pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc.

ADHD drugs include Novartis AG’s Ritalin and Focalin, Shire Plc’s Adderall and Johnson & Johnson’s Concerta.

The biggest jump in use — a 19 percent rise from 2004 — was among adults ages 20 to 44, the study said. The number of those between 10 and 19 who took the drugs rose by 2 percent.

The use fell 5 percent for children under age 10. The findings were based on prescription data from 2.5 million U.S. patients.

Critics say ADHD drugs are overprescribed, especially among children. The safety of the medicines has faced growing scrutiny in recent months.

In February, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel called for a strong “black-box” warning on ADHD medicines, saying they might increase the chances of cardiovascular problems in some patients. The FDA says it does not yet know if reports of sudden deaths, heart attacks and strokes are related to the drugs.

Today, a different FDA advisory panel is set to review data on a possible link between ADHD therapies and heart problems, as well as psychiatric problems such as hallucinations in children.

The FDA will consider the input from the panels before deciding whether to update warnings on the drug labels.

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