Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most frequent mental disorders found in children.  Children with ADHD have difficulty functioning normally in various environments, including home, school, and even personal relationships with others their own age.  Common symptoms of ADHD are impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention or lack of the ability to focus. 

ADHD should only be diagnosed by a professional with specific training such as a child psychiatrist, psychologists, behavioral neurologists, clinical social workers, and developmental/behavioral pediatricians.  A diagnosis should only be made after all other possible explanations for the child’s behavior have been ruled out, school and medical records are reviewed, and interviews are conducted with teachers and the child’s parents.

Stimulant drugs, Adderall, Ritalin, and Concentra for example, are often prescribed to treat ADHD.  Such drugs have a short-term effectiveness of reducing symptoms between 60 to 80 percent in high school children.  The previously mentioned medications improve the child’s ability to focus and reduce hyperactivity in order to facilitate learning and working. 

In June of 2005 the FDA announced it would investigate all ADHD drugs including Ritalin, Concerta, Strattera and Adderall.  If your child is taking these drugs you should be aware of serious side effects associated with them.  These drugs do have real benefits for children with ADHD, but there are serious risks involved such as strokes, heart attacks, and sudden death.

Generic name:  Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine
Date Approved:  November 8, 2002
Manufacturer:  Shire Pharmaceuticals
Status: February 9, 2006 Black box warning
Approved Uses:  ADHD, ADD
Serious Side Effects:
 Sudden death
 Heart-related death

Adderall was approved by the FDA on November 8, 2002 for the treatment of ADHD.  It combines four drugs of the amphetamine family, and was originally marketed under the name of Obetrol for weight loss and diet control. 

Common side effects of Adderall are insomnia, headache, dizziness, dryness of the mouth, weight loss, and restlessness.  More serious side effects are strokes, psychosis and even death.  When taken by people that don’t have ADHD, it has a high potential for substance abuse and addiction.

Generic name:  Methylphenidate
Date Approved:  1960s
Manufacturer:  Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Status: February 9, 2006 Black box warning
Approved Uses:  ADHD, ADD
Serious Side Effects:
 Sudden death
 Heart attack
 Chest pain

Ritalin, a product of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, was approved by the FDA in the 1960’s.  Ritalin’s generic form Methylphenidate is the most commonly prescribed drug to treat ADHD. 

Ritalin affects children in a similar manner to the way Cocaine affects adults.  It sharpens short-term attention, and then results in a low when it wears off.  Abnormalities in brain development have been attributed to long term use, similar to abnormalities caused by cocaine.  Ritalin is available in short term doses that are affective for two to four hours, while other tablets may be affective as long as eight hours.

Side affects of Ritalin include nervousness, dizziness, abdominal pain, headaches, weight loss, and cardiac arrhythmia.  Serious side effects are heart attack, stroke, chest pain, hypertension, tachycardia, and death. 

Generic name:  Methylphenidate
Date Approved:  August 1, 2000
Manufacturer:  Johnson & Johnson
Status: June 29, 2005 label update; February 9, 2006 Black box warning
Approved Uses:  ADHD
Serious Side Effects:
 Suicidal thoughts
 Psychotic behavior
 Chest pain

Concentra was approved for the treatment of ADHD by the FDA on August 1, 2000.  In 2004 Concentra was prescribed to 7.8 million people. 

Noted side effects of Concentra include upper respiratory tract infections, vomiting, sleeplessness, sore throat, diziness, headache, stomach ache, loss of appetitie, and increased cough.  Reduced stature, tics, psychosis, moodiness, sucicidal thought, arrhtyhmia, tachyardia, and aggression are other noted side effects. 

Concentra tablets that last up to 12 hours are available, making it the longest acting ADHD Drug.  The medical community is not yet certain what effects methylphendiate, found in Ritalin and Concentra, has after consistent prolonged hours in the bloodstream.

ADHD Drugs and Fatalities-

The FDA has received reports establishing an association between ADHD medications and sudden death, strokes, hypertension, and heart attacks in both adults and children.  In February of 2006, 81 deaths resulting from the use of ADHD drugs were reported to the FDA. Between 1999 and 2003, 45 non-fatal cardiovascualr events related to ADHD drugs were reported.  It was recommended that black-box warnings be attached to all packaging of stimulant drugs like Adderal, Ritalin, and Concentra. 

Parents need to be well infromed of the harsh side effects of ADHD medications Adderall, Ritalin, and Concentra before allowing their child to be prescribed these drugs.  Studies have demonstrated devistating reactions in young children, and it is not known if previously mentioned medications have adverse effects on the development of a young child’s brain.  Furthermore, all ADHD medications are closely related to illegal drugs including dextroamphetamine (Dexedriene or dexies); methamphetamines (crystal meth); and cocaine.  It is in a parent’s best intrests to seek drug-free alternative treatment before allowing a doctor to push such drugs on their child.

Adderall, Ritalin, or Concentra could be the cause of any cardiovascular problems you or your child may have experienced including heart attack, stroke, palpitations, arrhythmia, or hypertension.  Contact Keller & Keller LLP to have your rights protected and receive a free consultation

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above problems please contact our law firm.  Contact Keller & Keller LLP if you believe that you or a loved one has suffered as a result of these drugs.

Jim Keller
Partner at Keller & Keller

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