Swedish doctors “wrote illegal ADHD prescriptions”

Sweden's state-owned pharmacy, Apoteket, has lost control over the distribution of Concerta, a variety of the Ritalin drug for children diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

More than 100 doctors have been writing out prescriptions despite being unauthorised to do so.

Since the long term use of drugs such as Concerta still unknown, only child Psychiatrists and paediatric Neurologists are allowed to prescribe Concerta. An additional 214 other doctors were also given special dispensation in 2004. It seems that some of the doctors whose special dispensation request was denied have been writing out prescriptions regardless.

“These doctors will be closely monitored,” says Torsten Mossberg, head of the control unit in Stockholm.

The Social Care board has now warned Apoteket that it must improve its controls and Apoteket’s legal spokeswoman Helena Calles said that a better system will be in place by the autumn.

By then Subutex and Methadone will also be on limited prescription. Those doctors who have prescribed Concerta illegally have been contacted and most express regret at their mistake. They say they were not aware of the regulations.

The effects of Concerta have been compared to those of cocaine.

According to a recent research report in the Archives of General Psychiatry “cocaine, which is one of the most reinforcing and addicting of the abused drugs, has pharmacological actions that are very similar to those of methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), which is now the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medicine for children in the US”.

Although Ritalin has certainly proved that it is effective in many cases and helps children who suffer from ADHD to lead a relatively normal life, the long term effects on young developing brains is still largely unknown.

Like Ritalin, Concerta works in the same way that related stimulants like Cocaine work on adults, sharpening the short-term attention span when the drug kicks in and producing equally predictable valleys; in street parlance, “coming down”, in Ritalese, “rebounding”.

Because Concerta is released over several hours it delivers a smoother dose over about twelve hours, and so the peaks and valleys are not as pronounced.

At best the hundred or so doctors writing out illegal prescriptions appear to have done so because they felt that despite government regulations, they were able to diagnose children well enough to establish ADHD.

At worst, Concerta is ending up on the streets where, unsupervised, it will do a great deal of harm to young people.

Sources: Corren, Harvard, CNN, www.adhdhelp.com

Lysanne Sizoo

Lysanne Sizoo is a certified Counsellor, specialising in bereavement, fertility and cultural assimilation issues. She also runs a support and discussion group for English speaking women. You can contact her on [email protected], or 08 717 3769. More information on www.sizoo.nu.