ADHD :: Fewer children but more adults being prescribed ADHD medication

The number of children being prescribed stimulants for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Western Australia continues to fall with almost an 18 per cent reduction over the past two years.

Chief Medical Adviser Dr Margaret Stevens said the Western Australian Stimulant Regulatory Scheme 2006 Annual Report showed there were 7,283 children under 18 years of age on stimulant medication for the treatment of ADHD in 2006 compared with 8,859 in 2004.

?While the report does not explore the reasons for the reduction, it is possible that there is greater awareness among health professionals and the community of other treatment options,? she said.

But while fewer children are being prescribed the drugs, such as Ritalin and dexamphetamine, the number of adults on stimulant medication has jumped by 13 per cent over the past two years.

Dr Stevens said adults now accounted for almost half of the number of prescriptions for ADHD medications in WA.

?Again, there could be a number of reasons for this including a greater awareness that ADHD can affect adults as well as children,? she said.

The report also showed:

The average age of children on treatment was 12.4 years and the average age of adults on treatment was 31.4 years.

There were 7,283 children and 7,142 adults notified to the Department of Health in 2006 as receiving treatment with prescribed stimulants for ADHD.

1.7 percent of children and 0.46 percent of adults used stimulant medicines in the treatment of ADHD.

There were more males than females on stimulant treatment with a ratio of 4.1 to 1 for children and 1.7 to 1 for adults.

The Stimulant Regulatory Scheme, which sets the criteria for the prescribing and dispensing of stimulant medicines, started in WA in August 2003.

It requires the Department of Health to be notified of all patients prescribed dexamphetamine or methylphenidate for the treatment of ADHD or other disorders.

This is the third report of the data generated by the Scheme and includes information on prescribing patterns, rates of treatment, and patient demographics.


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