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ADHD Drugs: Adult Use Doubled in 4 Years

Increase Seen in Women More Than Men, Industry Report Shows

Gender Trend?

The study focuses on growth in ADHD use. So is the greater growth in women due to the fact that more men were already taking ADHD drugs?

"That's a hard one to answer. I'm not sure," says Epstein.

"Some people are saying that maybe there's a recognition that little girls don't have the hyperactivity component [and] don't get diagnosed as children. But then when they go on to college or work or interpersonal relationships then the other symptoms become evident enough that someone's making the diagnosis."

"It's not like you suddenly get ADHD as an adult," says Epstein. "You've always had it; it was unrecognized when you were young. And we think the reason for females is because they just don't manifest the hyperactivity the way the boys do."

CDC's Findings

The CDC recently weighed in on ADHD trends among boys and girls -- but not adults. The CDC reported that ADHD is more often diagnosed among boys than girls but that rates of ADHD medication use were similar for boys and girls diagnosed with ADHD.

Medco's survey tracks prescription drug use, not medical diagnoses of ADHD.

"These are very specific drugs. Certainly the majority of the use of these drugs is for ADHD," Epstein tells WebMD.

He says Medco is checking to see if it can tease out data on ADHD use by students as study aides and whether ADHD drug use spiked among women after the topic came up in an episode of Desperate Housewives.

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