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More Young Adults Taking ADHD Drugs

ADHD Drugs Jumps 19% in Young Adults in 2005, Report Shows

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 21, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

March 21, 2006 -- The use of prescription drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rose again in 2005, mainly among young adults.

So says Medco Health Solutions, which manages prescription drug benefit programs. Medco checked prescription data for 2.5 million patients nationwide.

For young adults (aged 20-44), ADHD prescriptions rose nearly 19% in 2005 and about 139% from 2000 to 2005, according to Medco.

For kids and teens (aged 0 to 19), growth in ADHD medication use was less than half of 1% in 2005. That number is a stark change from years of much higher growth -- 9% to 16% per year from 2000 to 2004.

'Growing Trend' for Adults

In a news release, Medco's chief medical officer, Robert Epstein, MD, MS, commented on the findings."This new research indicates that we're seeing a growing trend in the use of ADHD medications among adults," Epstein says. "In 2005, the numbers continued upward from 2004, as they have every year since the beginning of this decade." ADHD Questionnaire: Check Your Symptoms ADHD Questionnaire: Check Your Symptoms The FDA has studied and continues to analyze safety issues related to ADHD drugs."While there is a growing acceptance that ADHD is not just a childhood disease and can impair adults as well as children, the possible cardiovascular issues associated with ADHD drugs should be weighed very seriously when prescribing these drugs for adults since they're at greater risk of heart disease and stroke than children," Epstein says.

In a news release, Medco's chief medical officer, Robert Epstein, MD, MS, commented on the findings.

"This new research indicates that we're seeing a growing trend in the use of ADHD medications among adults," Epstein says. "In 2005, the numbers continued upward from 2004, as they have every year since the beginning of this decade."

The FDA has studied and continues to analyze safety issues related to ADHD drugs.

"While there is a growing acceptance that ADHD is not just a childhood disease and can impair adults as well as children, the possible cardiovascular issues associated with ADHD drugs should be weighed very seriously when prescribing these drugs for adults since they're at greater risk of heart disease and stroke than children," Epstein says.

Gender Gap Shrinking

While ADHD prescriptions were more common for males than females in every age group, the gender gap was much narrower for young adults and is shrinking for kids, according to Medco.

"While boys still far outnumber girls taking ADHD drugs, girls are increasingly being diagnosed and treated for the condition," Epstein says. "ADHD in girls can be less noticeable than in boys and in the past was often overlooked. However, that appears to be changing."

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Sources

SOURCES: News release, Medco Health Solutions. Medco Health Solutions: "Growth in ADHD Medication Use (2004 vs. 2005)." Medco Health Solutions: "Growth in ADHD Medication Use (2000-2005)." Medco Health Solutions: "Year-Over-Year Change in Prevalence Children 01-9 on ADHD Medication." WebMD Medical News: "ADHD Drugs: Adult Use Doubled in 4 Years." Reuters.

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