A diagnosis of hyperactive as a legitimate disorder was something Dr. Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University worked hard for. Today, with 15% of all high school children supposedly affected by ADHD, one would expect this man to celebrate.
But in addressing his fellow ADHD specialists in Washington recently, he called this rising rate of diagnosis “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”
He went on to say that the numbers make a hyperactive diagnosis look like an epidemic, when it most assuredly is not. According to Dr. Conners, “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”
Twenty three years ago, 600,000 children were on medication for ADHD. That number has soared to 3.5 million today.
Pharmaceutical companies have had a wildly successful 20 year campaign to publicize ADHD and promote the medication to those involved with children, including educators, doctors and parents.
But their shenanigans have not escaped the notice of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has cited all the top ADHD drugs for false and misleading advertising. Some of the drug-producing companies have been cited multiple times.
Patient advocacy groups, funded by the pharmaceutical companies, have been active in attempting to get the government to loosen their regulations. This action is especially grim, considering these drugs have an abundance of dangerous side effects, and are regulated in the same class as morphine and oxycodone.
Drug execs and prescribing psychiatrists are not capable of concern outside that of their own comfort and wealth, and ADHD drug sales continue to soar. In 2012 sales were close to 9 billion, more than 5 times their profit of 10 years earlier.
Roger Griggs, the drug company exec who introduced Adderall, admitted he is against marketing stimulants to the public in general. His term for these drugs is “nuclear bombs.” He feels they should be given only under extreme circumstances and under close physician supervision.
Suicide is a possible “side effect” of drugs for hyperactivity. So is an inability to sleep for days, hallucinations and complete lack of appetite. And despite the denial of the drug companies, these drugs are addictive substances.
Typical of all psychiatric conditions, there is no scientific test for ADHD. And the American Psychiatric Association has made the official criteria so loose that any childhood behavior could fit the description of ADHD. Not surprisingly, the American Psychiatric Association receives significant funding from pharmaceutical companies.
Even the psychiatric journals benefit. Drug company advertising went from absolutely no ADHD drug ads 10 years ago to 100 pages today in just one publication, The Journal of the American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry.
Of course, the side effects such as irritability, insomnia and psychosis were in very small letters accompanying those ads. This is considered legal, if not ethical, for pharmaceutical marketing practices.
Sleazy advertising practices abound with ADHD drugs. Parents, especially mothers are particularly preyed upon. For example, a Concerta ad shows a happy mother saying “Better test scores at school, more chores done at home, an independence I try to encourage, a smile I can always count on.”
Pharmaceutical companies producing these drugs and every psychiatrist who prescribes them are making money at the expense of our children. A child with a hyperactive diagnosis is simply a pawn in their self-enrichment game.