Attention Deficit Drugs Are Causing Serious Side Effects

Health & Wellness on 11.07.12
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Photo: epSos.de/Creative Commons

A growing number of Canadian doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and parents are concerned that attention deficit drugs are causing major health problems for patients. According to an ongoing study conducted by the Toronto Star newspaper, since 2001 there have been nearly 600 cases of Canadian kids suffering serious, sometimes fatal side effects, suspected to be caused by ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) medications. (Serious side effects are defined as going to hospital, suffering a disability or life-threatening condition, or dying.)

Scariest of all, the federal government doesn’t seem to be listening. Health Canada appears to be brushing off reports and failing to investigate these negative side effects. The Toronto Star says there is “no evidence that Health Canada, after receiving these reports, is doing any formal case investigations that would help the regulator better monitor drug safety.” While ADHD doctors don’t want to scare parents away from medicating their kids when necessary, they agree that Health Canada has a responsibility to report any red flags concerning the drug.

Ten percent of the 600 investigated cases involved children aged seven, who are most likely to suffer side effects, such as contemplating suicide. Out of the 600 cases, 76 kids considered killing themselves and one-third of these were younger than age 10. ADHD drugs are the suspected cause in over 40% of all cases where youth have considered suicide. Specific drugs suspected of causing these side effects are Stattera, Concerta, and Teva-Methylphenidate ER-C.

There isn’t a clear number as to how many Canadian kids are diagnosed with ADHD, but one estimate is 1 out of 20, and increasingly, parents are turning to drugs as a way to deal with it. In fact, one-third of the 600 cases have been reported only in the past two years. That means that a lot of kids are potentially at risk and that’s why it’s more important than ever for Health Canada to take these reports seriously. As one Member of Parliament said, “This is ugly. This is really ugly.” Parents have the right to know about adverse reactions from the drug company themselves, but first the manufacturer needs to acknowledge what’s happening.

For more information, see the Toronto Star: ADHD drugs suspected of hurting Canadian kids and Health Canada brushes off reports of serious side effects.

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