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£800,000 spent on ADHD drugs
9:30am Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
ALMOST £800,000 was spent on drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Worcestershire last year, new figures have revealed.
The county’s spend on prescriptions for psychostimulant drugs to treat the condition was among the highest in the whole country prompting one watchdog to claim that people are being ‘chemically restrained’ unnecessarily. But commissioners and mental health staff have defended the cost.
They say there is overwhelming evidence supporting the use of methylphenidate drugs – such as Ritalin – in treating ADHD. They also argue that variations in the way drugs are prescribed in different parts of the country have contributed to the county’s spending seeming higher than average.
Figures obtained from the NHS by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) show that 14,682 packets of drugs were prescribed for ADHD by the now-defunct Worcestershire Primary Care Trust in 2012 at a cost of £797,000.
That bill gave Worcestershire the 11th highest spend of 153 primary care trusts in England who together spent more than £52 million on the ADHD drugs.
CCHR spokesman Brian Daniels criticised the use of drugs to treat ADHD as unscientific and even compared the effects of some of the drugs to cocaine.
“There are no tests and no results to confirm a so-called chemical imbalance of the brain,” he said.
“All that has happened is the person has been drugged and is exhibiting the effects of a dangerous mind-altering foreign substance in his or her body.”
But a spokesman for the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust dismissed the comparison as entirely misleading.
“The reality is, that if children are not correctly diagnosed and treated there is a significant impact on their quality of life and prospects into adulthood, compared to those who are correctly diagnosed and treated,” he said.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the symptoms of ADHD improve substantially with the use of stimulant medication, but it should only be used after behavioural interventions have been tried and still in combination with those interventions.”
Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s three clinical commissioning groups, which have taken over responsibility for health spending from primary care trusts, defended the county’s ADHD spend.
A spokesman said that in Worcestershire prescription costs for specialist community services, such as mental health, were linked to the primary care trust (PCT), whereas in many other areas only the cost of general practice prescriptions showed up on the PCT bill.
“That is why our prescribing costs for conditions such as ADHD may appear higher,” he said.
“The health economy has also supported some of the more expensive drug treatments for conditions such as ADHD, which reduce the number of tablets a patient needs to take in a day, meaning the costs of treatment would be higher.”
l Have you or any of your family been prescribed drugs for ADHD? Are they a valuable treatment or an expensive waste of money? E-mail ta@ worcesternews.co.uk or call 01905 742282.
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