Bradley Hospital responds to FDA report on ADHD drugs

Nation's first psychiatric hospital for children pioneered ADHD treatment

In response to the recent FDA report linking ADHD drugs such as Ritalin to the deaths of 25 people, Bradley Hospital, the nation's first psychiatric hospital for children, and pioneer in the use of Benzedrine (a close relative of Ritalin) to treat attention disorders in children, has issued the following statement:

"Like all child mental health professionals, we at Bradley Hospital enthusiastically support a comprehensive investigation. Until definitive results are available, we advise against any rapid or unilateral changes in medications that have been effective for many children."

Background information:

Bradley Hospital in Providence, RI, was the site of the first use of stimulants to treat children's psychiatric disorders. Since then, stimulant medications (including Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Methalin and Metadate) have become the most widely prescribed psychoactive medications used in the pediatric population. The efficacy of stimulants in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is well documented in several major, NIH-funded, long-term studies, as well as in over 200 smaller studies conducted in the past 50 years. The benefits of stimulant medication, especially when prescribed as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan, are substantive and often dramatic.

Despite the clear benefits of carefully prescribed and monitored stimulant medication, there have been reports of overuse, inadequate diagnostic evaluation prior to starting the medication, and casual follow-up. The nationwide shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists adds to these problems. The pharmaceutical industry has been criticized for incomplete reporting of the results of their clinical trials, including incidence of side effects. Increasingly, public pressure has been focused on access to comprehensive information on the risks and benefits of medications, especially when they are used in children.

The data are not fully evaluated yet on the recently reported rare and serious adverse events associated with stimulant medications. They deserve thorough scrutiny to determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship and the exact nature of the risk (special populations, dose relationships, etc.)

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This statement was prepared by child psychiatrists on staff at Bradley Hospital.

Founded in 1931, Bradley Hospital (www.bradleyhospital.org) was the nation's first psychiatric hospital operating exclusively for children. Today, it remains a premier medical institution devoted to the research and treatment of childhood psychiatric illnesses. Bradley Hospital, located in Providence, RI, is a teaching hospital for Brown Medical School and ranks in the top third of private hospitals receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its research arm, the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC), brings together leading researchers in such topics as: autism, childhood sleep patterns, HIV prevention, infant development, obesity, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and juvenile firesetting. Bradley Hospital is a member of the Lifespan health system.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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