Monday, December 12, 2005

Adult ADHD Meds Double

New research shows that the use of prescription medication for ADHD is growing at a faster rate among adults than children. The use of drugs that help keep ADHD patients focused, doubled among adults 20-44 between 2000-2004. But according to data compiled by Medco Health Solutions, one of the countries largest prescription benefit manager, it only rose 56 percent among children during that time. The study also shows that among women 20-44, use of prescriptions rose 113 percent and 104 percent among those between 45-64, both far more than men. They also point out that spending on the medicines has quadrupled. Experts say reasons for the increase include better drugs, advertising, and parents of children recently diagnosed with ADHD realizing they too have the symptoms.

Doctors are now seeing about 1 percent of adults being treated and 4 times as many are estimated to have ADHD. This means that nearly 1.5 million Americans 20 and older are taking ADHD medicine. These figures dispel the earlier beliefs that children grow out of ADHD. About 50 percent of adults still have problems that affect their functioning. And now, many are staying on their medication beyond adolescence.

Part of the increase is due to awareness of the disorder among the public through advertising. Eli Lilly and Co., makers of Strattera, have been running TV adds aimed at adults who may not realize they have the disorder. Also, the makers of Adderall XR and Concerta have advertised in magazines geared to parents of kids with ADHD.

ADHD has symptoms that include trouble concentrating, impulsivity, disorganization, procrastination and hyperactivity. Along with behavioral therapy, medication is good because it can improve adults' relationships, parenting skills, job performance, even their sex lives, according to Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of a new ADHD book called, "Delivered from Distraction". With new, brand-name versions that last all day, limiting the ups and downs of symptoms, sales have soared from $759 million in 2000 to $3.1 billion in 2004, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical informatin and consulting firm. And as drug makers receive regulartory approval specifically to market to adults, the market for ADHD drugs could easily double.

While there are benefits for some adults, others are just stressed out and are being misdiagnosed. More adults are being diagnosed due to better diagnosis procedures. He points out that adults don't just get ADHD, they had it when they were kids too. He says that 3-7 percent of the nation's children have ADHD and a third of them have the disorder with the same intensity in adulthood. While stimulants and non-stimulants are used to help some, doctors cannot act cavalier with the symptoms of ADHD. In our overstressed society, many symptoms can be describing a very stressed out, overloaded person.

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