Kids Ever More Medicated for ADHD

By McCarton Ackerman 06/18/12

A new FDA study yields fascinating stats on the quantities of drugs prescribed to US children and adults.

Prescriptions for ADHD meds hit a high.
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The number of prescriptions for ADHD drugs for children skyrocketed between 2002 and 2010, reveals a new study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—but the total number of prescriptions for kids up to age 17 declined during the same period. The relevant stats show a 7% drop in total prescriptions and a big increase of 46% in ADHD presscriptions—with the total number of ADHD diagnoses rising from 4.4 million to five million. Ritalin and Adderall account for the majority of the ADHD drugs prescribed, but newer meds like Vyvanse and Focalin are also being introduced. Contraceptive prescriptions also increased among adolescents by a massive 93% and there was a marked increase in medications prescribed for asthma. However, antibiotic prescriptions for kids declined by 14% and the numbers for antidepressants also fell. The trend for adults seems different; they experienced a 22% total increase in the amount of medications prescribed. However, the study doesn't provide an analysis for these results and the authors note that their research doesn't track whether the drugs are actually used—only that they're prescribed.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.